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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