Sigma Phi Epsilon house destroyed in late night blaze



Image By: Kyle Bursaw and Kyle Bursaw

A fire destroyed the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house at 237 Langdon St. early Tuesday, with all of the house's residents safe and accounted for. 


Around midnight, dozens of firefighters and police surrounded the house to fight the blaze, as hundreds of Langdon Street residents and onlookers flooded the street to watch the firefighters attempt to contain the fire.  


It's pretty much lost,"" Madison Fire Department spokesperson Bernadette Galvez said of the house. 


An MFD release estimated the damages to total $750,000. 


Officials have confirmed the fire started at the back of the house, but Galvez said the cause of the fire is unknown and will not be determined for awhile. She said the blaze was a ""second alarm"" fire, meaning that twice the regular number of personnel were dispatched.  


Police and fire personnel directed the crowd to the corner of Langdon Street and Frances Street for safety concerns. They finally extinguished the fire at 2:28 a.m., according to the MFD release. 


Three firefighters were injured, two of which were transported to UW Hospital and one to Meriter Hospital with minor injuries. 


Dean of Students Lori Berquam, Associate Dean Argyle Wade and the American Red Cross were on the scene to assist residents on a Madison Metro bus parked near the scene. Ald. Eli Judge, District 8, said all residents of the house were safe and accounted for.  


""A bunch of different fraternities have offered beds, couches things like that for them to sleep on,"" Judge said. ""As of this moment, according to the president of the efforts we've been putting together, everyone has a place to sleep tonight."" 


Ryan Sugden, vice president of the alumni board for the fraternity, said none of the members were able to recover any of their belongings from the fire.  


""The members are dealing with a very difficult time,"" Sugden said. ""Now we're getting over the initial shock."" 


According to MFD, 25 residents lived in the Sigma Phi Epsilon house.  


""These students are resilient and hard times are ahead of them,"" Wade said. 


The Dean of Students office set up a crisis fund that offered $500 to each resident - 19 of which utilized the fund early Tuesday morning, Berquam said. 


""The support from the Dean of Students has been incredible,"" Sugden said.  


According to Sugden, 10 to 15 fraternity members were planning to live in the house during the summer and are now looking for alternative housing.  


Check back at for updates. 


- Christopher Guess contributed to this report

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