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  1. Feb. 1, 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the Tower Hall fire.

    From Springfield Fire Journal:

    In the early and bitter cold hours of Feb. 1, 1977, a three-alarm blaze trapped students and firefighters inside the 10-story Tower Hall dormitory on the campus of Wittenberg University.

    Firefighters raised an 85-foot aerial ladder from Truck 7 to save two students, Ed Wittenberg, 20, and David Clement, 20, from Room 601 on the sixth floor, according to The Springfield Daily News and a Wittenberg University press release.

    Firefighters escorted two other students from the 7th floor and removed two firefighters from an elevator as flames leapt from the rear of the co-ed dorm on Woodlawn Avenue.

    Medic 1 transported students and firefighters to Mercy Medical Center with smoke inhalation.

    The first alarm was struck at 1:40 a.m., with Engine 1 from fire headquarters first due. Engine 7, Truck 7, Chief 3 and Medic 1 were also on the initial assignment. Other units typically “on the running card” for alarms at Wittenberg in that era were Engine 8, Engine 5 and Truck 8. (The nearest street alarm – Box 6124 – was located at the corner of Woodlawn and Cassily.)

    There had been confusion as to the location of the fire when firefighters arrived.

    Signs in the stairwell identifying the floor numbers had been moved.

    There was also a problem with the standpipe system.

    An investigation determined a candle in a student’s room – Room 612 – started the blaze, which was fueled by a vinyl record collection.

    The sixth floor was rendered inhabitable, with considerable smoke and water damage extending from the fourth to seventh floors.

    Evacuees were house in other dormitories, sororities, fraternities and private homes.

    Most of the city’s fire apparatus responded to the fire as did the volunteers of Box 27 Associates. (Your editor, a regular visitor to fire headquarters, was pressed into service to assist Medic 1.)

    In total, four firefighters were injured:

    William Edgington, 50, platoon commander
    Jerry Mansfield, 27
    Bill Kemper, 33
    Cecil “Pete” Siratt, 49

    Later in 1977, one of the deadliest dormitory fires in U.S history killed 10 women at Providence College in Rhode Island on Dec. 23, 1977. That fire started in a closet. Two hair dryers had been left on to dry wet mittens.

    The Wittenberg campus was the scene of other fires:

    On May 15, 1928, fire swept the Woodlawn Hall womens’ dormitory, killing Hilda Sipes, 20, of Shelby, Ohio, according to a dispatch from the Associated Press.

    On Dec. 28, 1900, fire destroyed Hamma Divinity Hall. Firefighters rescued three students even as their hose lines were hindered by low water pressure.

  2. Wittenberg students. You are PATHETIC! You have two basketball teams playing in the NCAC tournament, but none of you bother to show up to support either. A SMALL student section showed up for the men’s Wooster game, and most left before the comeback win. Tonight’s game – a Final Four game- against Dennison was equally sad. Other than a handful of people who knew what time the game was showed up and made noise only when they remembered a game was on. If it weren’t for the cheerleaders, all the noise would have been with Dennison. The first half sounded like it was being played AT Dennison. 25 of their students made an insane amount of noise.

    Put down your Xbox, Playstation- or whatever else you have in your hands- and show up!! you are letting down generations of Tiger fans, alumni and yourselves. Dennison’s last parting cheer was “Deadbeat school.” Really? It’s at 4pm tomorrow in case anyone is confused!

    Wittenberg Class of 1988

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