A University at Buffalo student faces arson and drug charges after police said he set himself on fire after dropping a butane torch while smoking marijuana from a bong in his North Campus dorm room Thursday evening.
Alec Seidenberg, 19, of Ardsley, Westchester County, suffered burns on his feet and face and was taken to Erie County Medical Center for treatment.
“Apparently he was done smoking, and dropped the butane torch on the floor,” said UB Police Chief Gerald W. Schoenle Jr. “It started him on fire. He brushed the fire off himself and the room caught fire.”
A woman identified as Seidenberg’s girlfriend also suffered minor burns, and was treated and released from ECMC.
The fire was reported at 6:17 p.m. in Seidenberg’s fourth-floor room at Spaulding Quad Building 1, police said.
Damage has been estimated at $250,000, police said.
Campus police arriving on the scene found a working fire with alarms sounding and about 200 students evacuating seven buildings, Schoenle said.
Students were allowed to return to their rooms at 9:30 p.m. Nineteen students who lived on the fourth floor of Spaulding Quad Building 1 are temporarily being housed in local hotels, said Schoenle.
A fourth-floor hallway in Building 1 suffered some smoke damage, police said. The alarms triggered by the fire automatically shut the building’s fire doors and helped confine the fire to Seidenberg’s room, Schoenle said.
“The fire was brought under control in 20 minutes,” Schoenle said.
The Getzville Fire Department responded to the alarm. Fire departments from Ellicott Creek and North Bailey served as back-up.
In addition to arson, police charged Seidenberg with possession of a small amount of marijuana and other charges.