Fire destroys historic University of Michigan frat house
Posted by Liz Cobbs, Art Aisner
Ann Arbor firefighters battled a fast-racing blaze this morning that virtually destroyed the historic Delta Upsilon fraternity on Hill Street near the University of Michigan's Central Campus. There were no reported injuries.
Battalion Chief Robert Vogel said the center of the house was on fire and "the flames were shooting up high into the sky" when firefighters arrived at the two-and-a-half-story house at 1331 Hill St., between Olivia and Forest streets.
Firefighters from Ann Arbor, Pittsfield and Scio townships and the city of Ypsilanti assisted Ann Arbor in fighting the blaze.
DTE crews were also called to the scene after electrical lines behind the house dropped on cars that were parked there.
Five people reportedly were living in the house for the summer but it is uncertain whether they were there when the fire started. However, Vogel said, the residents have been contacted and "they were accounted for and are safe."
Larry Kowalski, a Delta board member who graduated from the University of Michigan in 2007, said the house was an active fraternity house that had limited residency for the summer because of ongoing construction inside.
Residents of Forest Place apartments on South Forest Avenue wait outside their building, as firefighters fight a fire in a nearby building on Hill Street in Ann Arbor on Friday morning. The residents were evacuated because the smoke of the fire entered their building.
Nearby apartments on Forest Avenue were evacuated because of the heavy smoke. Residents living in an adjacent Forest Place Apartments said the smoke came into their building and set off the smoke detectors.
"The apartment was filled with smoke, the alarms went off and we just ran out," said Jebediah Long, who was awaken by the fire.
Witnesses said that once firefighters got the flames out from the porch area, they went inside to fight the fire but were forced out when the second floor burst into flames.
Witness Jerry Vanhof said flames from the second floor were "shooting out the side of the house like a blow torch."
Photo from Delta Upsilon Web siteThe historic Delta Upsilon fraternity house at the University of Michigan.According to the state's Center for Geographic Information Web site, the Tudor revival, brick house is the oldest residential fraternity or sorority house building at the U-M still occupied by the organization that constructed it.
The Ann Arbor District Library's Web site says the Delta Upsilon was founded as a non-secret fraternity at Williams College in 1834 and its U-M chapter was chartered in 1876.
The house was designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn in 1903 for the fraternity. On Sept. 29, 1991, the building was listed on the State Register of Historic Sites.