Archive for April 30th, 2005

Fire at Johnston Gate.


4:40 PM Littauer Library, North Yard. “There’s a
fire.” A woman patron pointed toward Johnston Gate where there was a
ferocious blaze with flames a few feet high and clouds of smoke 20 or
30 feet into the air. The Cambridge Fire Department was already on the
scene. By the time I got outside and found a camera angle clear of the
trees CFD had already knocked down the flames. Twenty minutes later,
after we closed the library, this was the scene

Cause: Believed to be equipment malfunction.
Injuries: [Thankfully] none.

Update:  Sunday May 1, 5:45 PM. Michael Feldman,
who publishes Dowbrigade news, and is also a member of the Berkman
Thursday Blogger Group has pictures and description earlier in the event. Michael is an actual journalist – fully trained and he teaches journalism at BU.

One more picture from Ezra Ball.

Update II: Wed May 3

Felicia, a student based in Cambridge, and a friend saw the beginning of the fire. Her blog has a dramatic picture [taken by Andrew Fong] and an eyewitness account including:

“…when we first saw it from near the body shop, it was just smoldering,
but by the time we went inside the yard and were checking out the john
harvard statue, the limo had become a massive ball of flames.”

The event was also reported in the Monday, May 2 issue of The Harvard Crimson, including a picture by Jonathon Tsao from a similar angle to Fong’s picture, but somewhat closer.

Opinion:  This first hand account seems to rule out
the theory of an explosion. It does, however, confirm that the fire was
fast moving. Jonathon Tsao’s  and Andrew Fong’s pictures confirm
that the event was as dramatic as eyewitnesses [including me]
said.  Questions about the origin were not unreasonable. They are
still worth a follow up. If there was no accelerant of any kind, we
ought to look at whether the upholstery materials used are adequately
fire retardant.