Updated 10/3/11 3:00 p.m. Eastern
First campus-related fire death of the 2011-2012 academic year
A fire in an off-campus apartment complex claimed the life of Renee Orhn, 19, according to an official from Indiana University - Bloomington (note correction on spelling of victim's name). Ms. Orhn was a freshman from Gary, Indiana and had not declared a major yet. According to a spokesperson from the Bloomington Fire Department the fire was reported at 3:37 a.m. on Saturday, October 1 in the Terra Trace apartments at 321 East 14th Street, a three-story apartment building. Fire personnel encountered heavy smoke and fire upon arrival coming from the second and third stories on the north side of the building.
The fire originated in an apartment on the second floor, northeast corner. The victim was found in an apartment on the third floor on the southwest section, remote from the fire.
The cause of death was smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Four people were injured, including a police officer and a fire fighter. All were transported, treated and released. Eight people were rescued from balconies or windows by fire fighters.
Three units were heavily damaged by the fire, one had heavy smoke damage. Minor heat and smoke damage in the remaining units.
The 3-story building (two above grade, one partially below grade) building was constructed in 1972. It has 12 apartments, is unsprinklered, with a manual fire alarm system. There are interconnected smoke detectors within the apartment units themselves. The building is not equipped with an automatic fire sprinkler system.
This is the first campus-related fire death in the 2011-2012 academic year. Since January 2000, Campus Firewatch has documented 147 campus-related fire deaths with 85% of them occurring in off-campus housing, where approximately 2/3 of the students across the nation live. The past three years have seen a definite downward trend in fire deaths from a high of 20 in 2006-2007 to 6 in 2008-2009; 5 in 2009-2010; and 6 in 2010-2011.
Common factors seen in a number of these fires include:
- Missing or disabled smoke alarms
- Lack of automatic fire sprinklers
- Careless disposal of smoking materials
- Impaired judgment from alcohol leading to ignition or inability to escape the fire
- Upholstered furniture on porches or decks contributing to the fire
Information on campus-related fire fatalities available from Campus Firewatch include: