May 4, 2001

Students to Hold Party at Odyssey After House Fire

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After an accidental fire made their house uninhabitable, eight Cornell students began the process of recovery with the help of friends, the community and a party to benefit the victims.

The party — which will be held at the Odyssey Nightclub in downtown Ithaca next Tuesday — will feature live music, DJs and visual art.

The visual art will include performance photography, which are photos taken during the party, digitally altered and projected onto a screen in the club, said Ajay Chaudhary ’03, fire victim and co-producer of the show.

“In a way, this is still the original party that [housemate Chaudhary and I] planned to throw before the accident, but since then we have had some renewed motivation,” said Eric Zhang ’02, co-producer and former house resident . “It has turned into [something like] a benefit show to raise some money for us and the inhabitants of our house.”

Most of the proceeds from the cover charge will benefit the eight friends who lived in the house.

“Some of the people lost all of their stuff,” Chaudhary said.

Two members of the band Q, which will perform at the party, are former house residents.

The Ithaca Fire Department arrived at 11:30 a.m. last Monday to the house located on Ferris Place, according to Assistant Fire Chief Lee Labuss.

Two residents were at home at the time of the fire, but neither suffered injuries.

“There was extensive damage, confined to the first and second floors,” Labuss said. “[In this case] about 35 percent of the contents of the room and structural components, such as the walls, were totally destroyed.”

The fire was accidental, according to Lieutenant Dave Burbank, who also serves as the fire department’s public information officer.

“The fire was the result of a metal desk whose leg was resting on a power cord for an outlet strip,” he said.

“The cord operates up to a certain temperature but when you put something on it, the temperature builds up” and can ignite a fire, he noted.

The former residents, nevertheless, have found support among friends and the community.

“I can’t keep count of the number of people who have offered us places to crash, and clothes,” Zhang said.

“Community, Red Cross and University support has been amazing as well … [and] I’ve been pleasantly surprised at both the speed and thoroughness with which the community and University have responded to our situation,” he added, noting that the Red Cross immediately provided vouchers and the University offered free on-campus housing.

The former residents of the house are currently living in other apartments in Collegetown and in dormitories.

“I’m just grateful that everyone’s ok, [because] material items can be replaced,” Zhang said.

Archived article by Peter Lin