Couch burning at MSU: a tradition authorities want to eradicate

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -- Authorities are hoping to prevent a repeat of last Saturday when people set furniture on fire at Cedar Village following Michigan State's win over Penn State.

Most Spartans hate seeing their school be so closely associated with couch burning, but there are some who embrace it. With that, police expect to be busy with Michigan coming to town Saturday.

"It was insane, I've never seen flames that high before," one MSU student said.

Couch burning and football season, a combination East Lansing would like to eliminate. Students at the MSU say this upcoming game is like a holiday for them, and with that comes tradition.

"I mean, I can see how it can kind of be dangerous but I feel like its like a Spartan tradition now," Samantha Holley said.

Tradition or not, authorities aren't taking it lightly.

"Its something that should not be done. Its actually against the law to light stuff on fire. So be aware of that. The police could probably prosecute you," Leo Allaire of the East Lansing Fire Department said.

East Lansing Deputy Police Chief Steve Gonzalez says people who light the fire, or even stand around it after being asked to leave can face charges.

"This kind of behavior is not just harmless fun. We have seen numerous people hurt and seen a lot of property destruction take place because of this type of behavior. We take it very seriously in the city," he said.

Authorities say they aren't trying to put a damper on your rivalry week, they just want you to do it respectfully and safely.

"We want people to have fun, we want people to celebrate in a responsible manner. But that's not setting pieces of furniture on fire in the street," Deputy Chief Gonzalez said.

Both the East Lansing Police and Fire Departments are bringing in extra staff or this weekend. Police will also be paroling areas known for starting fires.

Kickoff against Michigan is at noon on Saturday.