The Kappa Sigma House is still recovering from fire

by Apr 23, 2012 10:02 pm Tags: , , , , , ,

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In June of 2011 a fire engulfed the Kappa Sigma fraternity house on S. 11th street. Fraternity members are unable to live in the house while it undergoes construction. Photo by Sierra Duren / Spartan Daily

The Kappa Sigma fraternity house is slowly recovering from the fire that engulfed it last summer, according to current Kappa Sigma President, Shane Peters, junior mechanical engineering major.

Peters said that most of the brothers were asleep with a few awake studying for summer classes as the fire spread and smoke alerted them to the situation before they immediately rushed to wake the others in the house.

The firefighters arrived quickly and the brothers relaxed, thinking it would be taken care of and they could go back to sleeping and studying, according to Peters.

Unfortunately, the fire started in the ceiling, which is why the smoke alarms didn’t go off. The fire began to eat up the insulation but was still contained within the ceiling, Peters said

When the firefighters opened the roof to try to get to the fire, oxygen poured in and fed the fire, causing it to spread rapidly and devour most of the roof, according to Peters.

Peters said that only 28 members of Kappa Sigma were living there at the time and although no one was hurt, they lost everything in the blaze.

The school immediately helped out with food, clothing and other necessities as well as letting them stay in Campus Village Building B, according to Peters.

Old Navy stepped in and gave them several discounts to their products and the surrounding community helped them get back on their feet, Peters said.

“We really appreciate Old Navy and the surrounding community for helping us,” Peters said. “The America Red Cross also helped support us.”

The brothers moved out and started to find housing in the local communities, often together and some even moved back home, according to Peters.

“We’re still a little spread out,” Peters said. “But we still come together and have meetings and do events to keep the brothers strong together."

The cause of the fire was most likely an electrical fire in the ceiling caused by loose lint in the ceiling according to Peters.

“It was out of our control,” Peters said. “It was just loose lint in the wall caught fire because of the poor electrical wiring, though with no ceiling it’s difficult to confirm anything. The firefighters said it was most likely faulty electrical wiring in the ceiling that caught the insulation on fire.”

David Hamilton, owner and founder of his own company, Mighty Tree Movers, SJSU alumnus, and owner of the Kappa Sigma house, hopes to start rebuilding at the start of the summer.

"The process is fun, because we have included the current Kappa Sigma brothers into the process, and have had their feedback throughout the design and engineering process," Hamilton stated in an e-mail. "We told the Architect, Mark Mesiti-Miller, from the beginning that we want a bulletproof house, so they designed it to take 40 college students going in and out."

They are going to have an advanced lighting and timing system that will keep all common areas lit throughout the night, but at low-voltage, according to Hamilton.

The exterior lights will be automatic and timed to sunset, including high-grade exterior and interior doors, keyless entry and brand new-complete home fire sprinkler system, Hamilton stated in an e-mail.

Kappa Sigma is a social fraternity that started out of Italy and came to America to spread out and it’s one of the biggest fraternities in the world, according to Peters.

There are four types of houses: social, cultural, scholastic and business.

The social houses concentrate on socializing, networking and enriching the college experience, according to Peters.

There are 69 members of Kappa Sigma at the moment and it is the one of the largest fraternities at SJSU.

The fraternity is currently working with their housing corporation as well as multiple construction workers and engineers to try to get the house back on its feet, Peters said.

“(With how) construction goes, we know it could take longer,” Peters said. “But we’re planning to get it operational where we can move in and live in it sometime fall.”

They are redesigning the building to make sure it is up to the fire code, but it’s a long process, according to Peters.

With the rebuilding being taken care of through the housing corporation, the brothers don’t have to worry about the rebuilding and the insurance is taking care of the cost, which is around $1.7 million in damages.

“I’m very proud of our house,” Peters said. “Our brotherhood has remained strong, if not gotten stronger.”

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