DPS Closes Inconclusive Investigation of Dumpster Fire
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 02:09
An investigation into the fire behind White Gravenor Hall on Saturday afternoon was inconclusive, Chief of Police Jay Gruber said.
The incident occurred around 3:00 p.m., when the unknown contents of a large steel dumpster behind the building caught on fire. The D.C. Fire Department arrived at approximately 3:20 p.m., and the fire was promptly extinguished.
According to Gruber, no property was damaged, and the fire did not extend to the surrounding area. The university has also resumed use of the dumpster in question, as it remains viable.
“We were lucky that it was just contained to the steel trash dump,” Gruber said.
As a result, the Department of Public Safety and DCFD will not pursue further investigation.
“If someone had been hurt or someone had been killed, or if property had been damaged, then it would really be an impetus to investigate the cause of the fire and to find out who set it,” Gruber said. “Because the fire didn’t hurt anybody and it did not cause any damage to the dumpster, it’s just time and effort to go through the dumpster to find out what the nexus of the fire was. The chances of actually finding the person are very slim, and it is very resource-intensive to do a fire or arson investigation.”
Gruber added that this cost-benefit analysis is common in fire investigations, especially for cases that caused no damage like this one.
Gruber guessed the fire was accidental.
“I don’t have any hard evidence as to someone’s motive or what started it, but if I had to venture a guess, it was probably accidental,” Gruber said. “Someone probably threw something away that was still hot. That’s how a lot of these things start.”
Gruber added that on-campus fires are a rare occurrence.
“We respond to a lot of fire alarms, but we don’t respond to a lot of fires,” Gruber said.