UNC Fraternity House Reopens Nearly Four Years After Tragic Fire
Posted February 18, 2002 1:17 a.m. EST
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — August 17, 1999
Three years ago, five people died in a Mother's Day fire at a
fraternity house. Wednesday, members of Phi Gamma Delta welcomed a new beginning.
It was Mother's Day, Graduation Day and he day of the worst tragedy in UNC's long history. A cigarette left smoldering in the trash started a fire that gutted the house and killed five people.
For the first time since the 1996 tragedy, the Phi Gamma Delta house is open.
Freshman Norman Clark is rushing Phi Gamma Delta. He is excited about joining the renovated house, but he knows the history.
"In '96 I was a freshman in high school and it was big news for a couple of weeks and it was pretty sad hearing about that," he says.
There was not much left after the fire, but alumni insisted on keeping the facade intact. It took almost four years to reopen the fraternity house.
"Working their way through raising all the funds -- which was roughly $1.8 million -- and then getting all the permits and everything and agree with what they want the facility to be, we actually consider this, actually, a quick turnaround," says Ron Binder,
The house did not have a sprinkler system at the time of the fire. The renovated fraternity house is equipped with a sprinkler system, handicap access and Internet connections.
As a result of the fire, all fraternity and sorority houses at UNC-Chapel Hill must have sprinkler systems installed by the fall of 2001. Half of the houses on campus have already complied.
Reporter: Mark Roberts