Fire department issues furniture abatement, prepares for LSU game
Published: Monday, September 19, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 19, 2011 23:09
The Morgantown Fire Department has issued a furniture abatement order in preparation for Saturday's football game between West Virginia and LSU.
The order requires residents to remove all furniture and "other combustible materials not specifically designed for outdoor use" from their exterior property starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, and lasting through 8 a.m. Monday, Sept. 26.
Morgantown Fire Chief Mark Caravasos said the last furniture abatement was issued in 2005 for the WVU vs. Virginia Tech football game to prevent student riots.
"We've got a big game coming up with national TV coverage coming to town, and this is a preemptive precaution," Caravasos said. "We know the potential for the problems that exist – we've dealt with it before."
Failure to comply will result in a misdemeanor citation for all residents of the property, and any furniture not removed by Thursday will be taken and stored at the city garage up to five days, according to the order.
Morgantown has been leading the nation with intentional fires since 1997, and despite new laws that will charge celebratory firestarters with felonies, Caravasos said the fires haven't stopped.
Two intentional fires were cited Saturday night following the WVU vs. University of Maryland game, resulting in two charges of malicious burning and one arrest, Caravasos said.
"Even though we've increased the penalties and have been more aggressive towards the issue, we're still having some fires," he said. "We're going to clear the porches and other areas in case there's a problem. This is one of the pulls we can use to help take the edge off."
Residents are ordered to remove any interior furniture, debris, construction materials, makeshift tables or other combustible products from porches, balconies, lawns and parking lots, according to the order.
While safety comes first, Caravasos said this weekend's game is a chance for students to repair the University's gameday reputation, too.
"It's a safety issue, and it puts people in danger – period. It also causes accessibility problems for emergency vehicles," Caravasos said. "Some of the things people hear about the University aren't good, and this is a part of the reason why."
The abatement order is in effect between Eighth St. to the north, and Campus Drive to the south; University Ave. to the east and Beechurst to the west; College Ave. to the west, and Willey St. to the east; Cornell Ave. to the north and Prospect St. to the south; Stewart St. from University Ave. to the west and Wellen Ave to the east.