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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Campus

UH student charged with arson after setting Lofts on fire, court docs show


Dozens of firefighters were called to the University Lofts on Monday night after a student allegedly started a fire inside the building that damaged four floors and displaced those living inside. | Donna Keeya/The Cougar

Dozens of firefighters were called to the University Lofts on Monday night after a student allegedly started a fire inside the building that damaged four floors and displaced those living inside. | Donna Keeya/The Cougar

A student was charged with felony arson after intentionally starting a fire and damaging four floors of the University Lofts on Monday night, according to court documents.

Kevin Ekofo, 26, started the fire by lighting a flammable liquid, the documents said, before trying to ignite another blaze outside the Cougar Village I convenience store. The Lofts fire was put out by the building’s suppression system, UH police Capt. Bret Collier said, but not before the damage caused the entire building to be evacuated and those living inside to be displaced.

Ekofo started the fire “because he wanted to and because he could,” prosecutors wrote in a bail motion filed Tuesday morning.

He was booked into Harris County Jail early Tuesday morning and his bond was set at $100,000.

Although damage to the building was limited, according to University spokesperson Chris Stipes, it was enough for UH to offer temporary housing for Lofts residents at Moody Towers or Bayou Oaks. Photos from inside the building show flooded hallways and water pouring from the ceiling in the lobby.

 

UH is trying to get students back in the Lofts as soon as possible, said student affairs chief Don Yackley, and many can do so already. Residents in parts of the building’s east wing on the second through fourth floors are still barred from their living spaces.

During the chaotic evacuation, Lofts residents were allowed back into their rooms for five-minute intervals with a security escort to retrieve essential items such as medication and identification. This process started with first-floor residents and made its way up the building.

Students with service animals in their rooms were not permitted back into the building earlier than their five-minute allotted time frame.

This is a developing story. This story will be updated as information continues to be released.

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