UPDATE: ECU Frat House Fire Accidental

Nine East Carolina University students lost most everything in a fire that ripped through their fraternity house Friday morning.

The fire heavily damaged an annex, or the "Back House" of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at ECU.

Fire investigators say the fire was electrical in nature and was accidental.

The house at 406 Summit St. sits behind the main fraternity house on 5th St., across from East Carolina University. The fire call came in at 6:23 a.m.

Fraternity members told WITN, some of them jumped from the second story to escape the flames. One member had a puppy living in the house, and the dog did not make it out alive.

"My buddy, Matt Lawler, he lives in the front room right there...actually where the couch caught on fire. He said he was asleep and saw the door completely covered in flames and he had time to make it out the window," says Preston Banta.

David Perry says when he walked by he saw people jumping off the carport onto the roof of a car. He knew it was time to help out. "There were two guys standing on the roof on the back porch and I climbed up on a rail and helped them they slide down my body on to the porch and handed me down their dog."

Fire department Battalion Chief Doug Branch tells WITN News that one student was injured when he jumped off the roof onto carport. "They were trying to suppress the fire with trash cans full of water. We had to force then back so we can do our jobs," says Branch.

The house does not have any sprinklers, which currently is not required. But the fire chief says the university wants all fraternity and sorority houses to have sprinklers by 2013.


East Carolina InterFraternity Council Statement:

As many in the greater ECU community and this city already know, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity suffered a loss today when one of their two houses caught on fire. It is a miracle that nobody was killed and that all 14 people in the house were able to get out in time. Although this is certainly a tragedy that these men will never forget, it is also a testament to the East Carolina Greek Community’s preparedness for fires and other unforeseen tragic events. Every year, each Greek House must go through a stringent inspection by the Greenville Fire Department and a Greek House is not deemed livable until the house is inspected thoroughly. Sigma Phi Epsilon passed the most recent fire inspection for their two houses. Fraternity men are also required to have an exit strategy and alternate exit strategy’s in case of a fire. There is no doubt that these Fraternity men handled an extremely difficult situation as well as anybody could have asked.

I speak for the entire Greek Community in saying that we are proud of how Sigma Phi Epsilon preformed in this situation. Their preparedness saved the lives of many and their maturity will get them through this difficult time. The Greek Community has already begun to rally around the Fraternity members just as Sigma Phi Epsilon has recently rallied around the community to raise money to fight Breast Cancer among other charities. I ask people in the ECU and Greenville Community to lend their support to these men so they can get back to normal lives. Many will be living with friends as they have no place to live. Their clothes and other belongings all were burned in the fire and one member even lost his pet dog in the blaze. Please contact the East Carolina Greek office if you can help in any way at 252.328.4235.

Patrick Sebastian
InterFraternity Council President


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Shelby Location: MD on Feb 20, 2009 at 09:25 AM
    I knew Spencer from High School :) Thank god him and his brothers were able to get out of the frat. house with no injuries! God bless and you will def. be in my thoughts and prayers!!! xoxo
  • by Anonymous Location: USA on Feb 9, 2009 at 06:06 AM
    my heart goes out to these nine. I am so grateful they got out alive. I know these are good guys, they go to class and have high GPA's. How dare you bash them. How dare you accuse them, it was electrical. The boys did nothing wrong. I pray that no ill befalls you and if it does I hope no one accuses you of wrong doing. Perhaps you need to losen up!
  • by Get Location: the kids name right on Feb 5, 2009 at 02:51 PM
    It ALLEN WOOTEN not WOOLEN
  • by IY400 Location: Tarboro on Feb 3, 2009 at 12:46 PM
    As with the others, my thoughts are with the Sig Ep's. Being a Lambda Chi from back in the day I spent some good times at the back house. Those that choose to hurl insults and unfounded allegations and to stereotype fraternities need to take a strong look at just how many "frat boys" are now in the world holding jobs of high importance and with tremendous responsibilities. The fraternity experience is far more than drinking and parties. Lifetime friendships are established and many people skills are developed. Unless you have been through the Greek experience, you really have no basis from which to demean those who have elected to participate a fraternity or sorority. Gentlemen of the "back house" I too offer my prayers and will make it a point to contribute to any relief fund. From a Lambda Chi to you God be with you.
  • by ME Location: NC on Feb 3, 2009 at 10:11 AM
    I am a brother in this fraternity and i know many of the brothers although i do not go to ecu anymore. guys i will keep you in my prayers and I hope to see you all soon. As for J YOU NEED TO KEEP YOUR THOUGHTS TO YOURSELF THE BROTHERS LOST EVERYTHING AND YOU DO NOT KNOW THOSE PEOPLE LETS PUT YOU IN A BURNING BUILDING WITH YOUR PET AND SEE IF YOU CHOOSE YOUR LIFE. IT DISGUSTS ME THAT YOU WOULD SAY THAT ABOUT SOMEONE WHO HAS SUFFERED LIKE THESE YOUNG MEN HAVE. YOU ARE A TRUE LOW LIFE AND I HOPE YOU HAVE A TRUE REALITY CHECK KARMA IS A STRANGE THING AND IT WILL COME BACK TO BITE YOU.
  • by Disgusted Location: NC on Feb 2, 2009 at 06:53 PM
    to check your location: there were some Bloggers insinuating that they could have had lit candles, cigarettes, & food on the stove. I was referring to those comments about some of them intentionally starting a fire Mr Smarty Pants when I asked for their comments to be reserved until the investigation was over.
  • by Emily Tadlock Location: Charlotte on Feb 2, 2009 at 02:57 PM
    My son graduated from ECU in 2002 and lived in the Delta Sig frat house his sophomore year. I am so very grateful that all these young men escaped from this fire. It breaks my heart that their dog lost his life. My son's fraternity brothers are still very close friends of his and probably will remain so for life. I will keep all these young men and their families in my prayers.
  • by Sam Location: Williamston on Feb 2, 2009 at 10:23 AM
    AK, you guys are in my prayers man. I as an ECU alumnus had some friends in this fraternity when I was in school and they were very nice and still went to classes and kept their grades up. Who do you people think you are for judging these guys and acting all harsh, GOD? If that is the case, then you are a low human being who could have a fire to burn your house. I guess some of you never thought that to start with. Bad things happen and many of those bad things that do happen, you do not have any control over. They need support not criticism. That is what this board is supposed to be about.
  • by Check Your Location: Facts on Feb 2, 2009 at 09:34 AM
    DISGUSTED Who said they intentionally caused the fire? I dont remember reading that anywhere, or is that just YOUR allegation / insinuation.
  • by Disgusted Location: NC on Feb 1, 2009 at 05:28 AM
    Why do some jerks always have to blog on here their allegations and insinuations? Can't you just wait until the cause of the fire is published until you start hurling your insults ? Would you want your child burned alive to recue a dog? Why do you assume just because these are young people that they were drunk or etc. Shame on you that do this. I do not know any of these students but this morning, I rejoice with them and their families that they all came out ALIVE! Even if it was not an electrical problem, do you honestly THINK that they would intentionally cause a fire to kill all those people. You just need to back off for a bit.
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