Fireworks 'battle' leads to pot bust at frat house

Around 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Oxford police responded to a fire alarm which had gone off at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house, located at 310 N. Tallawanda Road, next door to Phi Kappa Tau.

“Officers arrived and saw a person shooting fireworks out of the third floor at Phi Tau,” Sgt. Jon Varley said.

The two fraternities allegedly had been shooting fireworks at each other, Varley said. But that’s not all that had been taking place at the two fraternities, he said.

In addition to finding fireworks, both exploded and unexploded, inside the houses, Oxford authorities allegedly found what Varley described as “a pretty significant amount of marijuana” and paraphernalia. Police were doing an inventory of the confiscated items on Monday.

Varley and Fire Chief John Detherage both said the fireworks and marijuana could have led to a disastrous situation.

“There was definitely a real fear of starting a fire,” Deterage said. “We take this safety stuff pretty seriously. We want these kids to live long enough to be able to graduate and we’re going to do whatever it takes to stop this kind of behavior.”

According to Varley, “There were people sleeping through the alarms. People could have died.

“It seems minor until something tragic happens,” Varley pointed out. “How many of these kids might have been passed out? And if (the fireworks inside the houses) had ignited, how many might never have woken up?”

He added that there would be “lots of charges coming down from us and the fire department. The investigation is still going on. It’s far from over at this point.”

Varley said authorities might not have learned about the marijuana had it not been for a lack of cooperation from members of the two fraternities.

“All we wanted were the fireworks and the people who were shooting the fireworks … Because neither house cooperated, police obtained two search warrants, one for each house. The fire department also was on the scene.”

Detherage said the fire department would issue several citations. “I’m going to call the fire marshal’s office to see if they want to get involved too,” he said.

The Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, whose house is located at 320 No. Tallawanda Road, was founded on the Miami campus in 1906.

This is not the first time a fraternity or sorority on the Miami campus has been in trouble.

In April, Miami’s Sigma Chi fraternity was ordered by its national executive committee to be shut down for inappropriate behavior, including substance abuse and hazing. At one point in 2010, four Miami fraternities and sororities (out of the 50 organizations on campus) were on suspension.

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