The IMP Society apologized to the administration and Lawn residents yesterday after dousing a pile of logs with gasoline and setting them ablaze last Thursday night, igniting a bonfire several feet high in the middle of the Lawn.
IMP Society Leader Vicky Jones and the IMPs accepted responsibility for the fire in an e-mail apologizing to Lawn residents last night.
"We hope to continue to stay in the favor of the prestigious Lawn community and will continue to uphold the traditions of the University in the most appropriate forms as possible," the e-mail said.
Later, Jones emphasized the contributions the IMP Society makes to the University.
"We understand the seriousness of the situation," Jones said. "We really cherish the Lawn community and do a lot for the University community as well."
Fourth-year College student Laura Brewer said she was in her Lawn room late Thursday night when she heard a commotion and opened her door to campfire-sized flames.
"Then someone poured gasoline on it, and it went from small to very large," Brewer said. The flames reached a height above her head, she added.
A group of about 20 people, many dressed in red and black and some wearing capes and bearing pitchforks, were congregated around the fire, Brewer said. They dispersed when the flames shot up.
"We saw people with capes running around, and then we saw them trying to put out the fire with their capes," said Lawn resident Luke Ward, a fourth-year College student who watched the event.
Jones, also a Lawn resident, ran to her room to get a fire extinguisher once she realized the situation was getting out of control.
Brewer also grabbed her extinguisher.
"I brought the fire extinguisher to help and was trying to get the pin out when a member of the Society grabbed it from me," Brewer said. "They were very rude and belligerent."
Some Lawn residents said they consider the Lawn sacred and were angered by the prank.
"It was a stupid idea and highly dangerous," Brewer said. "There was no malicious intent, things just got out of hand."
Jones said she will meet with University administrators tomorrow to discuss how to deal with the situation.
"We have a special status at the University, and we never want to abuse that," Jones said.
University administrators involved could not be reached for comment.