Safety Student Life

College Tales: Dartmouth Dorm Fire Disaster

August 8, 2022

If you’ve lived in on-campus housing at a college, then you probably have an infamous fire story that you still tell people when they ask about your experience with university housing. Whether it be a cooking disaster or a lit candle gone awry, dorm fires are more common than you may think, and they often leave students liable. 

Dartmouth Students Displaced After Grill Fire

For two ex-Dartmouth students, their fire story resulted in their enrollment going up in flames. Daniel Ro and Sebastian Lim were expelled by Dartmouth in 2016 after they accidentally caused a grill fire in their dormitory. The fire spread all the way to the roof and left 70 students in temporary housing, and it left Dartmouth with a hefty insurance claim. 

On one unfortunate day in October, Ro and Lim decided to set up a charcoal grill outside their window. When the grill was left unattended, a fire quickly started and damaged most of their dormitory. Everyone was able to escape the flames, but all of the residents were left without housing. 

Students Expelled and Sued

Dartmouth filed a claim with their insurance provider, Factory Mutual Insurance Co., for $4.5 million in damages and subsequently expelled the two students for violating the student handbook by using their grill. 

Due to the school violation, Dartmouth’s insurance provider, Factory Mutual Insurance Co., brought a subrogation claim to the two students. The Valley News stated that Factory Mutual wanted Ro and Lim to be held liable for the damages and needed to reimburse the claim made. Luckily for the two of them, a judge ruled in their favor stating that as Dartmouth students, the school was the one who was liable for the damages, and they were co-insured by the insurance policy.

This is one story of hundreds that happen every year. In fact, The Clery Act has reported an average of 1,840 dorm fires since 2009, but not every student is lucky enough to be covered under their university’s insurance policy. 

How to Protect Yourself and Your Belongings


GradGuard’s Renters Insurance can protect you and your stuff from financial losses at college. Most colleges and universities don’t replace stolen or damaged student property, but GradGuard’s Renters Insurance can cover the cost to do so. 

Check out some of the highlights below: 

  • Affordable coverage as low as $11/month for your belongings, including electronics.
  • Avoid high deductibles that come from filing a claim with your homeowners policy.
  • No credit check and no penalty when filing a claim.
  • Liability and worldwide property coverage can be paused between terms.

Dorm fires happen, just like the one at Dartmouth in 2016 did. Disaster could strike at any time. That’s not to scare you. It’s to get you to think about how to protect yourself from the unexpected! Thankfully, there’s a simple way to not only protect yourself but your stuff.


Author Bio

Joining the team for a second year, Morgan is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School in Downtown Phoenix for ASU Barrett Honor College. She’s a native Arizonian, and taking after her dad, she loves writing and art of all mediums. Morgan is excited to gain new experiences through her second summer as an intern at GradGuard and form new relationships with the GradGuard team.

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