On March 15, a riding lawn mower on the lawn in front of Cromwell Cottage caught fire, alarming bystanders.
A maintenance worker had been using the lawn mower in the area around 3:30 p.m. when the fire began. Gambier Mayor Leeman Kessler ’04 had been seated on a bench near Middle Path, waiting to pick his daughter up from Wiggin Street Elementary School, when he noticed smoke coming from the direction of the lawn mower, which he initially mistook for dust that the lawn mower kicked up.
“When I saw the maintenance worker running from the vehicle that clued me in that it was serious,” Kessler wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Kessler found a fire extinguisher in the Church of the Holy Spirit and gave it to a staff member, before running to Gund Gallery to find another one. By the time he returned, the fire had grown beyond the capabilities of a fire extinguisher, and the Mount Vernon Fire Department (MVFD) was on the way.
Although onlookers were worried that it would spread, the MVFD was able to put the fire out quickly. It left a large patch of burnt ground where the lawn mower had been and a blackened stretch of tree trunk where a tree had briefly caught fire.
The fire was completely extinguished by 3:50 p.m.