Madison County

4 suspected arsons at EKU thought to be related

RICHMOND — In the midst of Fire Prevention Week in Madison County, five separate fires — four thought to be arsons — were reported on Eastern Kentucky University's campus.

The latest blaze occurred Saturday night outside the Powell Student Center. A golf cart used by food services overheated and caught fire, which sent a column of black smoke into the air from the center of campus, EKU spokesman Marc Whitt said. There were no injuries.

Officials are still looking for suspects in three small fires that took place last week in the Dupree Hall dorm and one in the Powell Student Center. The fires all seem to be related and caused by arson, but officials aren't sure whether one person or a group is responsible, Whitt said.

The Richmond Fire Department, the Kentucky State Fire Marshal's office and EKU police are investigating the four incidents as arsons.

EKU housing officials met twice last week with residents of Dupree Hall, an all-male dorm with about 260 students, to discuss the dangers of the arsons, said Kenna Middleton, director of university housing.

Many residents are annoyed by the fires, which have forced them to evacuate their rooms, often in the middle of the day during downtime, for lengthy periods, Middleton said.

After the third fire in the dorm, it was evident that "students were less than pleased with the whole situation," Middleton said.

On Oct. 6, an object was set on fire and thrown down a trash chute at 11:50 a.m. in the 11-story Dupree Hall, according to a news release from the fire department. Three hours later, firefighters responded to a debris fire in a stairwell between the seventh and eighth floors of Dupree. A third fire was reported in a stairwell of the Powell Student Center at 8 p.m.

Another trash fire was set in the trash chute of Dupree Hall on Thursday.

Anyone with information about the arsons should call the EKU Police Department at (859) 622-2821. The department is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of a person responsible for the arsons.