• Third 'suspicious' fire in 24 hours at Wheaton College dorm breaks out overnight

    By: Drew Karedes


    NORTON, Mass. - The state fire marshal's office is investigating after a string of fires that officials believe were intentionally set inside a dormitory at Wheaton College.

    Latest updates:

    7:00 a.m.   Fire officials confirm another fire broke out in the laundry room of McIntire Hall around 11:35 Sunday night. A student used a fire extinguisher to put it out. This is the third suspicious fire in the past 24 hours and the fourth fire in five days at the college.



    Original story posted Dec. 2, 11:17 p.m.

    The state fire marshal's office is investigating after a string of fires that were intentionally set inside a dormitory at Wheaton College.

    Students at the college were awoken early Sunday morning by the sound of a fire alarm and the smell of smoke coming from two separate bathrooms.

    School officials told Boston 25 News that a fire ignited in a bathroom in McIntire Hall Wednesday was deemed accidental, after two more bathroom fires in the same dorm that are being investigated as apparent cases of arson.

    Now, students are left with a whole lot of questions.

    “We were awoken by a loud alarm at 6 a.m.," freshman Tristan Keller said. "We were walking outside and there was smoke coming down from the stairs."

    Two fires flared up at the same time in bathrooms on the second and third floors Sunday morning, with one ignited in a trash can and another on a shelf stacked with paper.

    "We could smell it, and there was some smoke on the ceiling," Keller said. “Our friends on the second door opened their door, and their room was immediately filled with smoke."

    Keller and roommate Haley Dover, who live on the first floor, spent the next hours in neighboring dorms, and would later learn theirs was the subject of an arson investigation.

    "They told us they called the head of the arson investigators, which was a little intimidating," Keller said.

    Dover said the fire department and police department individually interviewed everyone.

    Now, the two freshmen say they remain puzzled over who would intentionally set the two fires in a dorm that's home to about 100 students.

    "We're literally living with someone who wanted to set the building on fire," Dover said.

    A school spokesman said a public safety officer that was first on scene safely put out both fires with an extinguisher, preventing any significant damage.

    "We are very relieved that everything worked exactly as it was supposed to," Michael Graca, assistant vice president for communications, said. 

    Graca said the school is now focused on assisting the fire marshal's office with its investigation, with students living at the center of it now looking at last Wednesday's fire with raised eyebrows.

    “That incident was deemed to be accidental," Garca said. "It’s not clear that there was any connection."

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    Now, students are left to worry about the situation escalating.

    "There's definitely a serious danger to it," junior Evan Kelly said. "Things can get out of hand. Fortunately, no one was hurt. You never know. In the future, that could change."

    A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered to anyone who can help authorities solve the case.

    Students tell us posters reminding them of the reward have been plastered throughout the dorm.

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