No one injured in West Campus fraternity house fire

Natalie Sullivan

No injuries were reported after a deck at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house caught fire Tuesday morning. 

According to Randy Elmore, Austin Fire Department public information officer, AFD was notified of a black column of smoke coming from behind a wall near West 24th Street around 7:40 a.m. Tuesday. When fire crews arrived at the scene, they found a large wooden deck on fire at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house, which is located at 2400 Leon St.

Elmore said fire crews extinguished the fire within three minutes and prevented it from spreading to nearby structures. According to Elmore, the fire was an accident because a fire pit at the house was too close to the wooden deck. Elmore said the total damages are estimated to be around $2,500.

J.D. Swancoat, the fraternity’s external vice president, said the deck was being built in the house’s backyard for an upcoming event.

“Our preliminary findings indicate this morning at about 7:30 am 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,” Swancoat said in an email. “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.”

Another balcony deck fire was also reported at Parker Lane around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday morning because of an improperly discarded cigarette. AFD personnel said strong winds could have played a role in both fires and advised residents to take proper precautions when disposing of cigarettes and extinguishing grills or fireplace fires. 

“As we advised last night, strong winds can quickly accelerate fires with improperly discarded cigarettes and [barbecue or fireplace] ashes,” AFD tweeted Tuesday morning.