Ham Hall evacuated after bulletin board poster set on fire

Photo by Alicia Winokur '16 A poster attached to a cork board in Ham Hall was set ablaze late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. 

Photo by Alicia Winokur '16

A poster attached to a cork board in Ham Hall was set ablaze late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. 

BY ALICIA WINOKUR '16

Early Wednesday morning, at 1:34 a.m., Campus Police responded to a fire alarm that went off on the second floor of Ham Hall. A poster pinned to a bulletin board was intentionally set ablaze, creating a small fire that burned through to the cork board. According to the Campus Police crime log, “A pull station was activated and the building was cleared.”

Residents of both Ham and MacGregor Halls were evacuated for approximately thirty minutes. Word quickly spread on the anonymous posting app YikYak that the fire was not an accident.

“I was awake at the time,” said June Corrigan ’17, who lives on the second floor. “Right before the alarm went off, I heard someone making kind of weird noises.”

The case is currently open and no suspect has been arrested, which concerns some residents of Ham. “I’m really worried that it will happen again when I’m not in my room,” said fourth floor resident Rachel Yousman ’19. “I have a comfort dog, and he can’t evacuate himself if the alarm goes off and he’s in his crate.”

The fire comes in the wake of a string of fecal-based vandalism and property damage incidents at 1837 Hall. Vandalism to property worth over $500 is considered a felony, while anything under is a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor usually results in less serious convictions than a felony.

The incident at Ham is considered arson because the poster was attached to the wall when it was set alight. Under Massachusetts law, anyone who “willfully and maliciously” sets fire to a dwelling can face up to twenty years in state prison, up to two years in jail, a fine of up to ten thousand dollars or both a fine and imprisonment. 

Mount Holyoke News

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