A small kitchen fire before a charity dinner at Ladd House last Friday forced organizers to cancel the event and caused an estimated $2,000 in damages.

The fire broke out around 4 p.m. the afternoon before the Taste for Change dinner, when a bag of pizza dough on a stove was ignited by a pilot light.

Sophie Springer '11 and Zach Levin '09 were in the kitchen when the dough caught on fire.

"When we noticed the fire, we initially attempted to smother the fire, which failed," Levin wrote in an e-mail to the Orient.

Levin and Springer then pulled the fire suppression sprinkler system inside the hood of the stove. Unbeknownst to both Springer and Levin, the sprinkler system installed in the kitchen was intended to extinguish grease fires and was filled with corrosive chemicals.

"The material from the sprinklers was corrosive, and it corroded through the sheet pans [on the stove]," said Ian Yaffe '09, executive chef of Taste For Change. Yaffe was not in the kitchen at the time of the fire.

All food in the kitchen had to be thrown away due to health concerns.

"Any food in the kitchen had to be thrown out, since it had been in contact with the chemicals from the sprinklers," Yaffe said.

Brunswick Fire and Rescue responded to the fire, and performed a walk-through of the kitchen. Yaffe, who works as a volunteer firefighter in neighboring Topsham, joined.

Shortly after the fire department arrived, Servpro, a company specializing in fire and water damage, cleaned the area.

Yaffe and other organizers of the event cleaned dishes for several hours. By 10 p.m., all of the dishes and pans had been scrubbed and cleaned.

Yaffe said the total cost of the fire, including damages and clean-up, totaled approximately $2,000. Though the Dining Service fronted these costs, it expects to be reimbursed.

According to Coordinator of Community Service Programs Sarah Seames, it has not yet been determined who will pay for the damages.

"Since this was a fire in a college house associated with a community service program, we are working with Residential Life, Facilities, and the Taste for Change group to determine how damages will be paid for," she wrote in an e-mail to the Orient.

Since donations were made before the actual dinner, the event still managed to raise nearly $900 for local charities and organizations. This money, however, cannot be allocated to cover the expenses of the fire.

"The $900 the dinner raised will still be going to charity," Yaffe said. "It's in a separate account that can't be touched."

Yaffe said that he may consider increasing the suggested donation at the next Taste for Change dinner to compensate for the damage costs.

"We might increase the amount that people have to pay," he said. "Maybe $10 at the next dinner instead of $5," with the difference going toward the clean-up.

However, at this point, Yaffe does not expect Food Forward, the organization that Taste for Change works under, or the Community Service Resource Center (CSRC), to pay for all of the damages.

"It does not seem that the Food Forward budget or the CSRC funds will have to pay for the total," he said.

Yaffe also said that a similar fire could be avoided in the future by purchasing a carbon dioxide extinguisher for the kitchen in Ladd House. Unlike standard fire extinguishers, CO2 extinguishers can put out fires involving flammables like grease and oil.

"They can extinguish fires without making a mess," he said.