Post game furniture burning increases

The fires left one student injured

KATIE SHADLER, Evergreen reporter

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WSU students set 15 furniture fires after the Cougars’ victory over USC on Friday, most within 30 minutes of the game, resulting in one injury.

“This is by far the most couch fires we’ve had at any one time,” Pullman Police Detective Sergeant Jake Opgenorth said.

One incident resulted in the injury of WSU student Zachary Zaragoza. He is seen in a video on Twitter attempting to jump over the fire, but he lands in it before rolling away. Fellow bystanders are seen picking him up and dusting him off.

The burning of couches has become a traditional postgame victory celebration in Pullman over the past year.

Several fires were set in three weekends last year following three Cougar football victories, with the most reaching five fires after one victory.

Out of the 15 incidents, Opgenorth said there were 13 couches, one mattress and one vehicle bench seat.

He said because officers handled 166 cases Friday, it was difficult for officers to stop the fires from happening. They were only able to prevent one fire, he said, and arrived at the scene of the others after everyone had left.

He said some were near houses and plants, while others were in the middle of the street, causing both a safety and traffic hazard. Officers had to direct traffic on several occasions until Pullman Fire arrived to extinguish the fires.

“It seems harmless enough,” he said, “but obviously bad things can happen and we’re doing our best to prevent them in the future.”

With the majority of incidents occurring on College Hill, he said they plans to have Alex Gordon, College Hill beat officer, talk to WSU Greek leadership to help prevent these incidents in the future.

Pullman Fire Chief Mike Heston said in addition to avoiding arrests, people should avoid starting furniture fires because it takes time and personnel away from serious incidents such as overdoses and injuries.