Binghamton fire department officials have concluded their investigation into a two-alarm fire in a downtown student apartment complex that burned for hours before it was discovered.

Authorities have ruled Friday's blaze in The Printing House high-rise at 19 Chenango Street was accidental.

Lieutenant Thomas Harding said a malfunction in a boiler in a mechanical room between the sixth and seventh floors caused the fire.

Harding said wood framing members were ignited and the blaze smoldered for an extended period until an alarm sounded. He said investigators believe the alarm system worked properly, although the fire could have been burning for hours before it was triggered.

Firefighters responded to the blaze early Friday afternoon when most of the estimated 270 students who live in the building were away for the winter break. Only about ten residents were believed to be in the tower at the time of the alarm.

Harding said the fact that the structure was virtually empty allowed firefighters to immediately focus on locating and extinguishing the fire.

He said had the incident occurred when the building was fully occupied, the first priority would have been to make sure it was completely evacuated before battling the blaze.

On Tuesday, technicians were testing the fire alarm system at The Printing House complex. Representatives of the facility's management team have not been available for comment since the fire.

Classes for Binghamton University students are to resume next week.

Fire equipment on Chenango Street as dozens of firefighters battled a blaze at The Printing House apartments. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

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