2006 Delta Sigma Phi Fire

On Friday, March 31, 2006 a fire started at 12:30pm at the Delta Sigma Phi house at 20 Pleasant Street. Potsdam and other area fire departments arrived within minutes to put out the blaze.  Smoke could be seen across town.  The county fire investigator said the fire started in the back corner of the house, and they believe it started outside the building.

Most of the contents of the house were saved, but the roof and structure, especially the third floor, were severely damaged.  The house was condemned by the Village of Potsdam Code Enforcer and the 11 brothers living there found other housing.  There were a number of fire code violations reported during their January inspection, but they were all fixed in February. 

The fraternity had 18 months to fix up the house and get it ready for occupancy in order to keep the property from being subject to village zoning, which would prohibit use of the property as a fraternity house. Prior to the fire, the fraternity had been "grandfathered" for the "legal non-conforming use" because it was in existence before the zoning regulations took effect. However, such grandfathered protection lapses if a house is vacant for more than a year.

Apparently most Potsdam Greek houses in residential neighborhoods are legal non-conforming use.

From the 5/10/08 Watertown Daily Times:
The fraternity, which owns the property under the name Karma Alumni Board, was granted a building permit for the building's reconstruction in November 2006 but failed to complete work within an 18-month time limit. It took the case to court after the zoning board twice refused to grant an 18-month extension.
The house was sold and today it's a bed and breakfast called The Emerald.

1 comment:

  1. This was not the first fire at the fraternity house. On September 3, 1977 a fire started in the third floor bedroom under the front window (since remodeled). The fire engulfed an upholstered deep cushion chair, likely by a cigarette, which quickly spread through the third floor. The entire roof was replaced with a lower pitched roofline. Since the dwelling was promptly repaired the Delta Sigma Phi (Karma) fraternity was able to continue operations at the property.