Car Catches Fire in Front of Eliot House

Car Fire Incident
Sara Joe Wolansky

Firefighters work to extinguish a car which caught on fire in front of Elliot Courtyard on Wednesday afternoon.

An unidentified car caught fire in front of Eliot courtyard on Memorial Drive before the fire was extinguished by the Cambridge Fire Department on Tuesday afternoon. The cause of the fire is currently unknown.

Raafi-Karim Alidina ’12, who was in the Eliot dining hall when the fire started, said that he and other students in the dining hall began to notice the smell of smoke while eating lunch.

“It smelled like burnt rubber,” Alidina said. “At first, we thought it was just something burning in the kitchen.”

When he and several other students went to open the windows, they were surprised to find a burning car directly outside of the Eliot courtyard.

Alidina said that while there was uncertainty about the cause of the fire, he was told by several people that there did not appear to have been an accident.


“It seemed like the car just overheated and caught on fire,” he said.

Edward D. Grom ’12, who witnessed the event, said that he saw the car on fire and watched as firefighters arrived on the scene and broke the windows of the car with axes.

“A small group of people went outside to look, but no crowd gathered or anything,” Grom said.

The Cambridge Fire Department, which dispatched firefighters to the scene, could not be reached for comment.

The University did not take any action other than to advise Eliot residents to insulate their rooms.

“Due to the smoke coming into the courtyard from the river, [w]e request that everyone close all windows to their rooms in order to prevent smoke from entering your suites,” wrote Francisco Medeiros, the Eliot building manager, in an email to Eliot residents.

Cecilia W. Cao ’13, said that the event did not provoke a significant reaction from people she knew who either saw or found out about the car.

“People were a little surprised, but then they just went back to their normal schedules,” Cao said.

—Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached at