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West Virginia University Fires & Football

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  • West Virginia University Fires & Football

    Students at West Virginia University often celebrate
    exhilarating football victories and mourn heartbreaking defeats the
    same way: by setting the streets of Morgantown on fire.
    Twice in less than 12 months, streets in the low-rent,
    student-dominated neighborhood of Sunnyside filled with a smoky
    haze as students burned couches, garbage and anything they could
    find after nationally televised weeknight football games.
    So, on the eve of West Virginia's biggest home football game of
    the season, Wednesday night's nationally televised contest against
    No. 3 Virginia Tech, Morgantown officials are spraying cold water
    on the 20-year-old tradition.
    The fires "have taken on a life of their own," Morgantown Fire
    Chief David Fetty said Monday. "The games continue to be a
    catalyst, but they're not the only catalyst. ... I don't understand
    it, and I don't condone it, but those are the facts."
    Firefighters were issuing more than 200 citations Monday and
    Tuesday to residents with fire hazards outside their homes,
    including excessive garbage and couches on porches, Fetty said.
    Violators refusing to comply face $1,000 fines, and city workers
    have been ordered to remove hazardous items, he said.
    Most citations were issued in Sunnyside and along High Street,
    the downtown avenue upon which many fraternity and sorority houses
    are located, he said.
    WVU student Alex Matzureff, a graduate student in secondary
    education and history, said Morgantown has been frenzied all week -
    so frenzied that his economics professor pleaded with his class
    Monday to preserve the town.
    "He said 'Whatever you do, don't burn down Morgantown. We want
    to have someplace left when we go to class Thursday,"' Matzureff
    Steve Hill, who runs a used furniture store, said he once sold
    five sofas during a weekend marked by couch fires.
    "A lot of times, they burn everything in sight," Hill said.
    Students typically don't purchase couches specifically to burn
    them, Hill said. Instead, they ignite their existing sofas, then
    purchase replacements.
    The pyromaniacal practice began about 20 years ago with large
    bonfires in Sunnyside after football games, Fetty said. As bars
    closed in the dilapidated neighborhood the locals call
    "Scummyside," the fires spread to downtown, he said.
    Now the blazes are more frequent but not as intense, the chief
    said. Most recently, rowdy students set couches and garbage in
    Sunnyside aflame after WVU's 21-18 win over Virginia Tech last
    November and after the Mountaineers' 22-20 loss to No. 2 Miami on
    Oct. 2.
    Since 1997, more than 900 fires have been set in town, Fetty
    "The Sunnyside tradition continues," Fetty said sarcastically.
    Ken Gray, WVU's vice president for student affairs, said that
    this week local fire, police and university officials are standing
    united in a zero-tolerance policy against fires and destruction of
    WVU officials have been pleading with students and fans to act
    Coach Rich Rodriguez left recorded messages on some people's
    answering machines, taped a video message to be shown on the
    stadium's scoreboard and made other requests through the media,
    imploring fans to behave.
    Wednesday night's Big East contest is WVU's first home night
    game since August 2002 and the school's first nationally televised
    home night game since a Maryland-WVU game Sept. 19, 1998, when
    whiskey bottles and golf balls thrown onto the field prompted
    school officials to tighten student ticketing procedures.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  • #2

    Some things never change..... As a WVU alum from the late 70's and early 80's, I was in Morgantown when two of the more intense "Scummyside" bonfires erupted when we beat Pitt and Penn State, both in the same season. After the Pitt game, the crowd took the hoses away from the firefighters and were dancing in the hose bed of the engine that showed up to put the fire(s) out. Those two incidents lead to the banning of open containers on the streets. The Morgantown Police Department parked a converted school bus at the end of the street and would escort the intoxicated from the door of the bar to a seat on the bus to dry out.

    Sounds like they have a larger problem now, though. All the bars used to be concentrated in one fairly small area so it was easier to "contain" what was going on, if you will. From this article, the activities are scattered around town more. Good luck fellas and batten down the hatches. At least the game is on Wednesday. It would be worse if it were on a weekend. If the 'eers win, at least it will be a happy mob. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening so they'll be a ticked off mob.....
    Chris Minick, P.E., Firefighter II
    Structures Specialist, MD-TF 1

    These statements are mine and mine alone
    I.A.C.O.J. Building crust and proud of it


    • #3
      MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia University and city
      officials will study videotape and photographs to identify rowdy
      football fans who set dozens of fires in the streets to celebrate
      the Mountaineers' 28-7 upset of No. 3 Virginia Tech.
      "If there are students in the pictures, and I'm sure there will
      be, they'll be hearing from our student affairs office and will be
      disciplined accordingly," university spokeswoman Becky Lofstead
      said Thursday.
      Morgantown Mayor Ron Justice said city employees were on the
      street with video cameras to identify fire starters and other law
      breakers, and those who can be identified will be charged.
      "We feel we gave fair warning in advance," he said. "We told
      them exactly what we were going to do, and that was to put people
      at every corner, and if we saw something start, moving in and
      identifying that individual."
      At least a dozen of about 90 fires set early Thursday were
      described as "sizable" by Monongalia County emergency officials.
      One car was damaged, the street was littered with broken glass, and
      bottle rockets and firecrackers exploded nonstop.
      "It's disappointing and frustrating because, believe me, there
      were so many efforts to communicate with fans about dangers
      involved," Lofstead said.
      This week, football coach Rich Rodriguez left messages on
      students' answering machines, taped a video shown on the football
      field scoreboard and made other requests for fans to act
      responsibly at Wednesday night's nationally televised game.
      Police and fire officers were struck with rocks and bottles and
      other people were injured by pepper spray, but no one was seriously
      hurt, hospitals and police said.
      One student was charged with battery on a police officer after
      punching an officer who was trying to take alcohol from him, police
      said. About 20 other people were charged with setting fires,
      disorderly conduct and public intoxication.
      At one point early Thursday, about 5,000 students had gathered
      on the main road. Inside the stadium, police used pepper spray on
      fans who tried to tear down the goal posts. Many in the crowd of
      56,319 stormed the field after the Mountaineers' first victory over
      a team ranked as high as the Hokies.
      Rodriguez said some players and team staff were inadvertently
      pepper sprayed because onrushing fans crowded the field.
      "Some players came in all choked up with tears in their eyes,
      and they weren't crying," he said Thursday. The coach added that
      he hopes the public will focus on the victory, not the aftermath.
      Earlier this month, the university disciplined three students
      who participated in similar post-game mayhem after the
      Mountaineers' 22-20 loss to No. 2 Miami, Lofstead said. One student
      was expelled.
      "It's definitely out of hand," Lantz said. "We just can't
      continue like this ry time we have a night game or a national

      APTV 10-23-03 1423EDT
      Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
      Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

      *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
      On the web at www.section2wildfire.com


      • #4
        (Morgantown, West Virginia-AP) -- A Morgantown firefighter has
        his stolen 400-dollar leather helmet back -- thanks to another
        firefighter who spotted it on a W-V-U fan.
        Firefighter First Class Randy Hunter fought for the right to
        wear the leather helmet, a salute to the history of his profession,
        and paid for it himself. He was angry when it was stolen from the
        scene of a fire in July.
        The hat reappeared Wednesday night in the midst of illegal
        bonfires set by W-V-U fans after West Virginia's 28-to-7 defeat of
        number three Virginia Tech. Firefighter Ashley Jenkins saw the
        helmet on a young man who was tossing debris into a street fire.
        Jenkins says when he shouted to the young man, he ran.
        Jenkins and firefighter Aaron Brandstetter chased him until he
        dropped the hat and disappeared into the crowd.
        Jenkins wore Hunter's hat for the rest of the night. He says he
        wasn't about to let someone else take it.
        The fan was captured on videotape wearing the hat and officials
        are hoping to identify him.

        (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
        Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
        Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

        *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
        On the web at www.section2wildfire.com


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