Preliminary Cause of Fire Looks to be Accidental

Monday, June 20 2011

MOSCOW, Idaho – Though the investigation is ongoing, it appears the fire that damaged the University of Idaho's Naval ROTC building on June 18 was accidental.

Fire investigators from the Moscow Fire Department and the Idaho State Fire Marshal’s office believe that the cause of this fire was from inadequately extinguished barbecue briquettes that were deposited into the landscaping next to the building, near the main entrance.

Hot embers from the briquettes smoldered in the landscape bark and plant duff into the wooden foundation of the World War II-era building. The fire spread from the foundation up into the attic and roofline through a plumbing system pipe chase.

"We're grateful for our Allied Barton security team, which saw the smoke and quickly called 911," said Matt Dorschel, director of emergency and security services. "The response was very prompt, and the fire was contained and extinguished."

The extent of damage is yet to be determined.
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit