Police Arrest Suspect in Frat Building Fire

Police Arrest Suspect in Frat Building Fire
By: Crystal Britt & Heartland News

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Fire officials in Cape Girardeau now consider the fire overnight at 1134 North Sprigg suspicious.

Police also have a man in custody. He's suspected of setting fire to the Sigma Chi fraternity event house. The suspect's name is not being released at this time.

The fire broke out around 4 a.m. When fire crews arrived not much could be saved.

"We extinguished the fire within 15 minutes, but by that time the building was pretty much gutted out on the inside of the interior," said Fire Chief Rick Ennis. 

At day break, the damage was revealed.  Fraternity members Doug Kluesner and Andrew Knott tell Heartland News Sigma Chi hosted a Halloween party the night before. They say the party broke up early.

"We were there.  We all left shortly after midnight and then next thing I know, I get a phone call," said Knott. 

"It kinda hit me pretty hard, a big shocker right there.  I didn't know it was that bad," said Kluesner. 

All the commotion woke up neighbor Shirley Smith.

"I was in bed asleep then I heard a noise and I looked out my window and saw red lights.  I thought, 'Oh my goodness it's a fire.' So, I ran outside.  The smoke was so thick, I had to run back in because it was taking my breath away," said Smith. 

While neighbors lost sleep, so did nearly every member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

"We all spend so much time down there.  It's tough going through something like that, that all our memories are attached to, but no one was hurt," said Andrew Knott. "We'll pull together as a chapter.  We always do," said Doug Kluesner.    

Official charges on the suspect in custody are expected Friday morning.


Updated 2:44 p.m.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - An early morning fire destroyed a fraternity building near the Southeast Missouri State University campus.
The battalion chief and another crew member will continue investigating cause of the blaze at the Sigma Chi fraternity's event hall.  
All the the flames are out now.
Smoke poured from the structure shortly after 4 a.m.  It's located Frederick Street and sits directly behind, or East, of the Rhodes 101 gas station on Sprigg Street.
At one point, every Cape Girardeau firefighter was on scnee and they got this fire under control quickly.
Acting Battalion Chief Brad Dillow said no one was inside this buidling when firefighters got on scene at 4 a.m., but he said there was a Halloween party there Wednesday night.  
At this time, there's no official word if anything from that party played a factor in starting the fire.  It's still under investigation.
The flames even melted the southwest side of the roof.   Firefighters said there is major damage inside.
The chapter adviser, Doug McDermott, oversees the 60-member college fraternity. He said this is private property and not part of the Southeast campus.
The Sigma Chi's use the building for their chapter meetings, educational events and social gatherings, such as Wednesday night when they had a registered party.  That means they had chapter permission to have such a function there.
McDermott said the fraternity brothers are shaken up about this major damage to their event hall.
Stay with Heartland News as we possibly hear more about what caused this large overnight fire.

If you have pictures or video from the party the night before email us or call the Heartland News hotline at 1-800-455-KFVS (5387).