On the eve of exam week, hundreds of students watched a couch burn early Sunday morning at the intersection of Franklin and Gaylord streets in Mount Pleasant.
Detroit senior Nolan Legr said he and his friends were coming back from downtown when they first noticed the fire.
“When we got back from the Blackstone, I saw this thing engulfed in flames, and hundreds and hundreds of people were acting like banshees around it,” Legr said. “One of the best moments in my life. Central came back for a quick moment.”
Legr said he started to cheer with the others while chanting sayings such as “Eric Fisher, Eric Fisher!” and “Fire Up Chips.”
Sometime between midnight and 1 a.m., a crowd of students showed how fired up they were by setting two couches and a mattress on fire, Legr said.
Josh Beckhusen, a Coldwater senior, recorded some of the event on his phone and said when the police arrived 15 minutes later, some of the spectators were put in handcuffs.
“It was by far the craziest thing I’ve seen since my freshman year,” Beckhusen said. “I think it was a combination of this being the last week for some of us, Fisher getting No. 1 (in the NFL Draft) and alcohol.”
The majority of the residents on the block are seniors, Beckhusen said. Within the first few minutes of the fire, people could be seen running toward the fire coming all the way over from Lansing and Fancher streets, he said.
“There were over 200 and 300 people there,” Beckhusen said. “I remember seeing a kid’s shoes on fire, with smoke coming off them. Today, there has been a lot of people driving by to look at what’s left.”
All debris from the night before has been removed with only a black scorch mark by a curb remaining. The YouTube video posted online by another Central Michigan University student has received more than 4,900 views and several comments.
Rochester Hills sophomore Dean Smith was one of the students put into handcuffs but was only detained while everything was being sorted out and was not arrested.
“Everyone was standing around chanting but moved to the four corners (of the intersection) when the police showed up,” Smith said. “I was standing at the door and was told to get everyone out of the house, and then two cops came up, and one grabbed me by the shirt and pulled me out of the house.”
Only one of the houses on the block received a ticket for a nuisance party because bottles were seen being thrown from the porch, Smith said.
“No one else received any tickets except for the one house where a bottle was said to have been thrown from,” Smith said. “I talked to the rest of the houses, and they didn’t get in trouble.”
Smith said he saw a state trooper, the Mount Pleasant Police Department and CMU police.
“It was the greatest night of my life,” Smith said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
The Mount Pleasant police and fire departments could not be reached for comment as of Sunday evening.