State fire marshal confirms arson cause in TTU dorm fire

Officials with the state fire marshal's office have confirmed the cause of a dorm fire last week was arson.

The fire, which damaged a men's residence hall room on the first floor of Browning Hall, broke out shortly after 8 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 25. Two students who lived in the room were not present, and the fire was contained to the one room. Both students lost all of their belongings in the blaze.

"We're taking this case very seriously," said TTU President Bob Bell. "And we're looking into any and all motivations. At this point, we're first of all grateful no one was injured in this tragic event, but we're also concerned that anyone would do such a thing for any reason.

"I want to make it clear that this type of incident is not tolerated on our campus, and we plan to investigate and, if possible, prosecute to the fullest extent of the law."

University officials say they found out the official cause today from the fire marshal's office. The TTU campus police, the Cookeville Police Department and state fire marshal's office are currently working together on the investigation.

At the time of the fire, all the fire alarms in the building worked perfectly, everyone was evacuated in a timely manner, and the residence hall staff, along with the fire and police departments, responded immediately, according to campus officials. The 300 students who live in Browning and the adjoining Evins Hall were able to return to their rooms the same day.

Campus officials provided both students with new housing arrangements, and several organizations have donated books, clothing and other essentials for them.

Investigators are following several leads, and evidence has been collected and is being analyzed. Because the investigation is ongoing, details are unavailable.