Update: On Oct. 2 the New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s Office announced that investigators have determined that the fire was caused by students using a small, hibachi-style charcoal grill on a flat section of roof outside a window in the residence hall. The grill had been left unattended at the time of the fire. The investigation is continuing.
A four-alarm fire early Saturday morning has displaced 67 students and left Morton Hall, a residence hall, uninhabitable. No one was injured in the blaze, the cause of which is under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office.
Safety and Security Director Harry Kinne says there is no ongoing threat to the community.
The fire was reported just after midnight on Saturday and brought first responders from a number of Upper Valley towns. They made sure that students were out of Morton Hall and adjacent buildings in the Wheelock Cluster, and worked through the night at the scene.
Firefighters had the fire, which was primarily in the roof of the building, under control by 6:30 a.m. They remained on the site and continued to check the building for hot spots. The building sustained structural damage and smoke and water damage. College officials will work in the coming days and weeks to determine the extent of the damage to the building and a timeline for repairs. Morton Hall will likely be closed for the remainder of fall term.
Students, faculty, and staff were informed of the fire through several emails sent by College officials throughout the night.
“Dartmouth staff and faculty are working to support the students affected by the fire and have secured alternative housing for them. At the moment, our priorities are to ensure that they are safe, comfortable, and experiencing minimal disruption to their studies and activities,” says Provost Carolyn Dever. “We have been touched by the groundswell of support from the student body, alumni, local businesses, and neighbors who have come forward to offer their help. It is a reminder of the strong and caring community we have at Dartmouth and in the Upper Valley.”
The displaced students are staying with friends in other residence halls or are in housing that Student Affairs personnel have helped them locate. All of the students have found housing. No other residence halls were damaged by the fire.
Staff and Red Cross volunteers are helping students obtain necessities and access loaned computers. Alumni, local businesses, and neighbors have stepped forward to offer assistance. Displaced students are being allowed to enter Morton Hall to retrieve belongings.
Students and staff needing to speak to someone about the fire and its aftermath can contact counselors through Dick’s House, the college health center; Safety and Security, and the Faculty/Employee Assistance Program.