Local News

Duke Officials Hope Fanning the Flames Will Douse Danger

Posted January 26, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— Dukeis fired up over tonight's game withUNC.Officials hope that by fanning the flames, they'll prevent dangerous fires on campus, whatever the final score.

Krzyzewskiville has been crowded with tents since the beginning of January. Tonight, the Cameron crew will have a chance to go crazy. Officials just want to minimize the damage.

The burning issue is bonfires, which have grown out of control in past years. This year, one university-sanctioned burn spot will replace campus-wide chaos.

Last year, Duke tried foam to douse the potential trouble of bonfires after big wins. The suds did not wash with students, though. When the Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels there were unauthorized bonfires, clashes with police and arrests.

"I just wonder if the reason why they got out of hand is kind of having a bunch of cops in riot gear. That might have had something to do with it as well as the energy we have," said student Ben Rebenstein.

In 1982, when Duke won its second consecutive national championship, the bonfires burned out of control.

Some students say they don't like the university telling them how and when to celebrate.

"I think that's pretty lame that the whole point of this is spontaneity and a victory celebration. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same thing as last year happen again," said student Brad Baumgarten.

Others say the new rules will help.

"I think it's fine. I think it'll be a lot of fun regardless of whether it's regulated or not," says student Ben Harrison. "Maybe this will be a little safer."

Duke University president Nan Keohane says they started planning in the summer to prevent a repeat of last year's mess.

"Bonfires ought to be fun. Bonfires ought to be celebrations. Duke has had bonfires in the past. Most major universities have bonfires. I'm quite confident that Duke students can have safe, happy, fun bonfires," said Keohane.

The Durham fire marshal has one message. He'll be watching.

"The students have been told their behavior will dictate as to whether they will have future bonfires at this time," said Fire Marshal Kenneth Crews.

Even thought they are the underdog, UNC could win the game. If that happens, all bets are off, and the focus goes to Franklin Street where the Chapel Hill police department says it will be out in force.