Students were surprised Sunday morning by a half burnt couch sitting in the middle of the quad at George Fox University. The night before, about a quarter after ten, several residents of Pennington Hall as well as a Resident Assistant and Assistant to the Area Coordinator, rushed to the scene of what was first mistaken as a burning bench.
Freshman Shelby Ellis seems to be the first to have noticed the flaming couch: “ I said to my roommates, ‘uh … there’s a fire in the quad’ so we all ran out with no shoes.”
The group called 9-1-1, as well as alerting the Resident Life staff on duty, Annie Lunt and Jay Cornwell. The group approached the fire to find a security guard there, along with a few other eyewitnesses, who had alerted the fire department and were awaiting assistance. When Cornwell arrived with a fire extinguisher in hand, the security guard “let us put the fire out before the fire department got there,” he reported.
The crisis under control, the fire department arrived on scene and took statements from the witnesses. According to Ellis, “[They] saw some guys take it off a truck, plop it there, and then burn it.” Apparently having been questioned by a security guard earlier the culprits “had said they were just taking it back to wherever they live.” When the fire and police departments arrived they “looked things over, and they said that it was their excitement for the evening.”
No one seems sure about the reason for the couch burning. In Cornwell’s words, “I have no idea who did it, or what their motives were. It was very random.” Random indeed, agreed Ellis, “As for the why of it, no one really knows.”
Called “a tradition” for West Virginia University students by the school’s newspaper, The Mountaineer, couch burning has been known to accompany losses by WVU sports teams (forty students have been expelled or suspended over the last fifteen years). However, there appears to be no connection to the GFU men’s basketball team loss on Saturday.
At the time of publication, no comment had been made by campus security.