Nearly one-third of the Binghamton University men’s lacrosse team has been displaced after a fire broke out at their residence on Tuesday morning.
The 14 members of the team that lived at the house, located at 74 Front St., were all evacuated without injuries along with another BU student living at the location. Binghamton Mayor Richard David tweeted that the fire damage to the property was extensive.
“This morning’s fire at 74 Front St. has rendered the property a total loss,” David tweeted on Tuesday. “City of Binghamton officials have deemed the building unsafe and we are taking action to demolish it today.”
Binghamton Fire Department officials announced on Wednesday that the fire was caused by an electric heater igniting a couch, which spread throughout the house. In addition to their personal property, much of the players’ lacrosse equipment was destroyed in the fire. The men’s team was set to face UMass Lowell in its regular season finale on Friday, but the BU athletics department announced on Thursday that the game has been postponed to Sunday night as a result of the situation.
A GoFundMe has been established by David Hatami, Student Association (SA) vice president for multicultural affairs (VPMA) and a junior double-majoring in political science and business administration. Hatami lives in a neighboring house and witnessed the fire.
“I woke up around 9 a.m. to a bunch of noise on the street,” Hatami wrote in an email. “When I walked outside, the top half of the lacrosse house was engulfed in smoke. Five to 10 minutes later, the entire house was engulfed. Soon enough spurts of fire were coming out of the house all over. The fire and police department took over pretty quickly and closed down the block. However, it did take the firemen a while to control the fire. I think it finally subdued around 2 or 3 p.m. Afterward, the students were allowed back into the house to try to salvage whatever they could. Around 5 or 6 p.m., the city brought in an excavator to demolish the house, which they did pretty quickly.”
Hatami, who became friendly with his neighbors this year, said his sympathy for their loss is what drove him to create the GoFundMe page.
“It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to suddenly lose almost everything you own to a fire, especially as a college student,” Hatami wrote. “Even though I didn’t really know them too well, I think being a good neighbor is something that’s always important. I just thought about what Mister Rogers would do. We just wanted to help them out as best as we could, and a GoFundMe seemed like a simple enough idea.”
As of April 28, the GoFundMe has raised $21,317.
Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations for BU, said the athletics department, Dean of Students office and University Consultation, Advocacy, Referral and Education (CARE) team began working with the students immediately after the fire occurred.
“Staff have worked to make sure the students have accommodations, essential items and anything else they may need,” Yarosh wrote in an email. “Thankfully there are no injuries being reported at this time.”