Local News

2 UNC Students Charged in Fire

Posted August 17, 1996 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Two UNC students have been charged with setting a fire early Saturday morning at a site adjacent to May's fraternity blaze that killed five UNC students. The two are Kappa Alpha fraternity members.

A police officer reportedly observed the pair setting Saturday's fire at 3:40 a.m., and arrested Colin Campbell Clode, who lives at the KA house, and Charles Davis Allen, III, of Apt. A, 700 Airport Road.

The fire was quickly contained.

Both students are 21. They have been charged with malicious damage by incendiary device, a felony, and misdemeanor larceny of a sofa. The sofa, which had come from the Kappa Alpha house, was set on fire in the middle of West Cameron Avenue near Pittsboro Street. Hours later, the smell of charred debris remained strong outside what now remains of the Phi Gamma Delta house, site of the May fire.

Ever since that blaze, which was likely caused by a discarded cigarette, the university has paid increased attention to fire safety. The UNC system recently agreed to spend $10 million on building improvements at its 16 campuses.

Neither Clode nor Allen responded to phone calls Saturday. But a fraternity brother who declined to give his name characterized the incident as "like a stupid little prank." He also told a newspaper reporter that it was none of the reporter's business.

Saturday's fire was the third recent university-related blaze at the Chapel Hill campus. In June, eight people escaped injury when a fire erupted at the Sigma Chi house on South Columbia Street. The ex-girlfriend of a Sigma Chi member faces charges of first-degree arson in that case.

Of Saturday's fire, Courtney Gleason, who lives in a fraternity house across the way from Kappa Alpha, said "They came by and asked us if they could burn the couch here. It's really dumb, especially with what happened before.