Friday, November 14, 2014

Close call in Easton, Massachusetts

A fire in an off-campus house where 11 students from nearby Stonehill College were living was a close-call for them. One evening, a student turned on the stove to pre-heat it, not realizing that there was a plastic dish strainer mat inside of it. He went upstairs to take a shower and the mat melted, smoking up the kitchen. One of the other occupants saw the smoke, alerted everyone, and they all got out. Close call indeed, but there is more to this story, as told by Fire Chief Kevin Partridge, about overcrowding, blocked exits, smoke alarms and bedrooms locked with hasps and padlocks. Listen to his account in the video below.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Update on Portland Fire

Steven Summers, the sixth victim from the Noyes Street fire died from his injuries at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Also killed in the fire were David Bragdon Jr., Ashley Thomas, and Christopher Conlee, and Maelisha Jackson.

There were two students from the University of Maine living in the building, but I'm not sure if they were on the fire side or the other side of the duplex.  The building has a history of code complaints, including the possibility of an illegal third-story apartment.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Update on Portland

I went to Portland on Sunday to see the fire scene where five people were killed in a fire on Saturday, and this is what I have learned, some from unofficial sources, some official.

Right now, it would appear that all five of the victims that were killed were not students, but this has not been officially confirmed, and the one person that was critically injured and is at Massachusetts General Hospital is also not a student. According to the University of Southern Maine's website, there were two students living in the building but they were not injured in the fire.

20/24 Noyes Street, Portland, ME. Photo by Campus Firewatch
The building is a large, two-story, wood frame building with what appears to possibly be an occupied attic, although that is impossible to know from the exterior. It is a side-by-side duplex.  As more information becomes available I'll post it here.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fire near Univ. of Southern Maine kills five

A fire broke out at about 7:00 this morning in an large house near the University of Southern Maine in Portland. As of 7:30 p.m., five people have been reported killed and one critically injured with several still unaccounted for.

Photo from the Portland Press Herald

It is unclear if the victims were students, but one of the people who escaped was a student, according to published reports quoting University President David Flanagan and according to a statement on the University's web site homepage there were "USM students residing in the building." 

The building is a large three-story building that contained two apartments.

Photo from Portland Press Herald

I'll be posting more information on this as it becomes available.


Fatal fire at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green

Tyler English, a 20-year-old Western Kentucky University sophomore, was killed Friday morning in an off-campus fire.  According to WKU Director of Media Relations Bob Skipper, English was majoring in Construction Management and was from Louisville, Kentucky. Another occupant was injured and transported to the hospital, but his condition is unknown at this time, according to the Bowling Green Fire Department.

A call at 5:13 a.m. reported a fire at 635 East Main Street, said Bowling Green Fire Department Public Information Officer Marlee Boenig.  Upon arrival, fire crews encountered heavy smoke in the two-story building that had originally been a single-family home, converted into apartments, but then converted back into a single-family. There were four people on the lease, but it is unknown how many people were in the building when the fire broke out.

The fire is under investigation at this time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Campus Fire Safety Month-Thanks, Everyone!

Thanks to everyone that helped spread the word for National Campus Fire Safety Month this year! Unfortunately, we did have two fatal off-campus fires in the past few weeks, one in Mitchell, South Dakota, that claimed the life of Tylor Kostrzewski and another in Reading, Pennsylvania that killed Matt Rein.  Hopefully, these will the only two this year.

We have definitely been seeing a downward trend when it comes to campus-related fires since 2000. The highest number was in the 2006-2007 academic year with 20 deaths, down to last year when we had a record low of 4.

Since more than four out of five of the fire deaths happen off-campus, and I don't think that the housing stock has been improving that dramatically, I really believe that this is because of the emphasis that everyone is putting on education and making students more aware of their responsibilities. Some communities, such as West Lafayette, Indiana, took the tragedies they had to heart and came up with creative solutions

This year, I saw schools doing a ton of training, education and outreach. There were 36 proclamations issued, which tied for the highest number ever.  Since this program started in 2005, there have been a grand total of 300 proclamations issued, plus resolutions in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.  All of this helps even more in raising the awareness among students, parents and communities.

There are now more tools for everyone to use in education, including The Alarming Truth9 Firesposters and Guides. The Campus Firewatch Tip-a-Day Twitter campaign was picked up and retweeted by more people than ever before (@campusfirewatch #firetipaday). We reached 14,000 accounts and had over 29,000 impressions with 21 messages.  Another great example of how, with everyone's help, we can spread the word far and wide, and these are, literally, "lessons for life," knowing about the importance of smoke alarms, exits and so much more.

So, thanks everyone for all of your help during Campus Fire Safety Month!