By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer
The University Edge’s insurance company offered a $15,000 reward to anyone who can provide investigators with information leading to the arrest of the individuals responsible for the fire at 30 Park Court, which occurred the weekend before classes began on Aug. 30, in which 36 students were displaced.
Durham Police Chief David Kurz and Kelly Lewton, the regional property manager for University Edge, confirmed that there is reward money and the two acknowledged where the money would come from.
“Yes, it is true that there is a reward offered by the insurance carrier for University Edge,” Kurz wrote in an email.
Rumors of the reward first began earlier this week when a post allegedly written by the residents displaced by the fire was shared on the “UNH Confessions” page on Facebook, a post that got more than 400 likes and 50 shares after incorrectly stating that the reward would be coming from the Durham Police.
“The Durham PD is now offering a $15,000 REWARD to anyone who knows any information leading to the arrest of the people responsible,” the post said. “I cannot stress to you enough how much it would mean to the 36 of us as we have been living in constant distress ever since this occurred.”
This was not the only information shared, however. Earlier in the post, the author detailed the frustration and grief supposedly shared by the residents who were displaced by the fire.
“Investigators have made it known that it was arson and the people who are responsible have not yet been identified. I understand the University has done little to nothing to spread awareness about this, but the severity of it has taken a serious toll on the 36 of us who are now out of a place to live for several weeks, some of us even months,” the anonymous author said on “UNH Confessions.” “Accommodations have been made for us in terms of living as our building is being renovated, but the absence of a home as well as our personal belongings that we no longer have access to have really put a damper on our year so far.”
Lewton, however, ensures that the residents are being adequately taken care of and that the owners of complexes are doing their part to help whenever necessary.
“University Edge has purchased swipes for all 36 displaced residents,” she said.
“UNH took away their free meals as of Friday so the owners of University Edge have purchased swipes to ensure those residents are taken care of.”
Due to the anonymous nature of the post, it is impossible to tell if the anonymous poster(s) actually live in the effected building and if they are indeed receiving Lewton’s accomodations.
While the investigation is still ongoing, there is little known about the circumstances and causes surrounding the incident, but Kurz remains hopeful in the public’s help of solving the case. In the past, he has expressed his gratitude for the residents and the witnesses who shared what they saw that night, saying no detail is too small.
“No information should be considered as unimportant,” Kurz wrote in an email. “As investigators, we are collecting a host of data and there is always the opportunity that one seemingly unimportant piece is not relevant when it may be the lone piece that ties everything together.”
If found guilty, the perpetrator(s) would be faced with severe consequences.
“It’s a very serious felony with multiple years of jail expected if found guilty,” Kurz said.
The fire that the posts refer to was started around 2:50 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30.
The blaze took roughly half an hour to get under control and required the assistance of nine other fire departments from the area (Lee, Dover, Madbury, Newmarket, Rochester, Exeter, Somersworth, Newington and Barrington). Though not at the scene of the fire itself, the Portsmouth and Newfields departments also assisted by holding down the fort at the Durham station if another emergency call came in.
As of right now, the 36 residents who reside in the 12 apartment units are being accommodated by University Edge at another location in the area while their apartments are being retrofitted to their previous conditions. As stated in a TNH article published on Friday, Sept. 12, it is unknown how much damage was caused at this point and how long the repairs will take.
Anyone with any information about that night can call the Fire Marshal’s hotline at 800-400-3526 or the Durham Police Department at 603-868-2634.