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STANFORD -- Stanford fire and police officials are investigating arson that caused damage to the kitchen of a fraternity house Friday morning, April 26.
Fire Marshal Ray Gamma said all 12 people who were in the Delta Kappa Epsilon house at the time of the 9:58 a.m. fire escaped unharmed. The fire started in and was contained to the oven, but adjoining kitchen appliances and the kitchen floor were damaged by smoke, flame and water, Gamma said.
The initial investigation revealed that two 64-ounce plastic containers filled with charcoal lighter fluid were placed in the oven, which then was turned up to 550 degrees, Gamma said. Once the plastic melted, the fluid spilled and ignited, setting off both the house alarm and an automatic alarm at the Palo Alto Fire Department.
A student with a fire extinguisher and a localized sprinkler system failed to douse the flames. A unit from the Palo Alto Fire Department stopped the fire before it could spread beyond the oven area.
The arson is being investigated by Gamma, by Detective Tim Frecceri of the Stanford Police Department, and by the Santa Clara County Fire Marshal's office. Arson is a felony.
No suspects have been identified. The "Deke" house was the target in two food-tampering incidents earlier this month. Noone was seriously hurt in either incident. That is also being handled as a felony investigation, according to Capt. Raoul Niemeyer of the Stanford Police Department.
Officials could not say whether the tamperings and the fire are related.
In the earlier incidents, grape juice was found tainted with paint thinner on Tuesday, April 16, and lawn-fertilizer chemicals were introduced into a pot of coffee the following day.
Jack Chin of Student Affairs said most of the locks at Delta Kappa Epsilon were being re-keyed and that residents of the area were being asked to keep on the lookout for suspicious activity.
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