Read response from Gonzaga University after learning the fire was arson - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Read response from Gonzaga University after learning the fire was arson

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Response from Gonzaga University President Robert J. Spitzer, SJ., to Today’s Spokane Fire Department Report that the March 13 Kennedy Apartments Fire Was Intentionally Set

          A March 13 fire to Gonzaga University’s Kennedy Apartments, which were under construction and due to open in fall 2006, destroyed the three-building complex. Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams today announced that fire investigators for the Spokane Fire Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have determined that the fire had been intentionally set.

            Gonzaga President Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., responded to the news as follows:

            “We are saddened to learn today that fire department investigators have determined that the March 13 fire to the Kennedy Apartments complex was intentionally set. We know of no one who would deliberately destroy university property. We will cooperate in every way to assist fire investigators and law enforcement officials to determine who is responsible for this heinous crime.

            “In the meantime, we are removing debris from the Kennedy Apartments site and intend to begin re-construction on the complex by the first of May. We expect the apartments to be ready for occupancy for fall semester 2007.

            “We are appreciative of the tremendous effort exerted by the Spokane Fire Department to contain the fire and keep our neighbors safe and surrounding structures fire-free. The order and execution of the firefighting effort, much of which I witnessed firsthand, was tremendous. We offer special thanks to the men and women who put themselves in harm's way to extinguish this fire. Because the apartment buildings were in a partial state of construction, the fire suppression system had not yet been activated. All building standards were being met.

            “Meanwhile, we want to assure our students, prospective students, and their parents that we have sophisticated fire prevention initiatives in place. Our residence staff, safety and security departments conduct fire safety workshops and execute fire drills twice each year. We have fire alarm systems in every one of our residences. We have fire suppression systems in every residence hall and most of our apartment complexes. We are accelerating installation plans for fire suppression systems in the remaining apartments. We contract with several Spokane fire, safety and protection providers to coordinate a regular and aggressive testing program to ensure all systems are functioning in every building and in each detection location. Additionally, our security personnel, who are on duty 24 hours a day, are on site rapidly to answer each alarm, to collaborate with our staff and to secure the arrival of Spokane Fire Department responders. This same system will be in place, tried and tested, by the time residents move into Kennedy Apartments in fall 2007.

            “The great blessing here is that no one was injured. We will work closely with our contractors, particularly Walker Construction with which we have had an excellent working relationship, to ensure that enhanced security measures are provided to all of our building sites in the months and years ahead.”

INDIVIDUALS WITH INFORMATION ABOUT THIS FIRE SHOULD CONTACT THE SPOKANE FIRE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATION OFFICE AT (509) 625-7052 OR 625-7053. 

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