Pi Kappa Alpha fall-party prep sparks fire

Fire at Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house (Haley Cihock/KXAN)
Fire breaks out at Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house in West Campus (Haley Cihock/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A University of Texas fraternity preparing for a fall party accidentally sparked a house fire early Tuesday morning. The blaze broke out at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house at 1103 W 24th St. around 7:40 a.m. The call went into the Austin Fire Department about a black column of smoke coming from behind a wall from the home, which also spans the 2400 block of Leon Street. When crews got to the house, they found a large wooden deck on fire at the fraternity house. All the residents of the house were asleep when the fire broke out according to a fraternity member. Everyone got out safely.

“Our preliminary findings indicate this morning at about 7:30 a.m., embers from an outdoor fireplace apparently were blown by heavy winds onto fresh lumber being used as part of a temporary deck installation for a mid-November celebration,” said J.D. Swancoat, the fraternity’s external vice president. “The very smokey fire occurred in the fraternity’s backyard and caused minimal damage to a wooden deck. At no time did the fire touch the fraternity house.”

Swancoat says firefighters evacuated the house as a precaution and that the fraternity’s operations returned to normal by later that morning, “serving lunch, holding a study hall, and other ordinary chapter activities.”

“Pike is particularly grateful to the Austin Fire Department for the quick response, as well as to many university offices and Greek groups offering assistance,” said Swancoat.

Firefighters managed to keep the fire from spreading to nearby homes and put it put out within three minutes. The cause of the fire has been ruled an accident. Fire officials say a fire pit on the wooden deck was just too close — sparking the fire. Damage is estimated at $2,500. No one was hurt.

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