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Ed Comeau, Publisher
Campus Firewatch
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ecomeau@campus-firewatch.com

Western Kentucky University sophomore dies in off-campus fire in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Third fatal fire of the 2014/2015 academic year

BELCHERTOWN, Mass. October 31, 2014 –Tyler English, a 20-year-old Western Kentucky University sophomore, was killed this 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.

This is the third fatal fire of the 2014/2015 academic year, all in off-campus occupancies. Since 2000, 169 people have been killed in campus-related fires, with 87% of them occurring in off-campus occupancies, according to information compiled by Campus Firewatch. Common factors in a number of these fires include:

  • Missing or disabled smoke alarms
  • Careless disposal of smoking materials
  • Lack of a second exit
  • Fires starting in couches on porches or decks

Since 2000, there has been a definite downward trend to campus-related fire deaths since its peak in 2006-2007 with 20 fatalities, and the lowest number last academic year with four fire deaths. Off-campus housing is still the greatest risk where over four out of five fire deaths have occurred since 2000. The last fatal fire in a fraternity was 2006 and the last residence hall fire death occurred in 2005, a testimony to the strong efforts being made by schools and communities across the country.

Since 2000, there has been a definite downward trend to campus-related fire deaths since its peak in 2006-2007 with 20 fatalities, and the lowest number last academic year with four fire deaths. Off-campus housing is still the greatest risk where over four out of five fire deaths have occurred since 2000. The last fatal fire in a fraternity was 2006 and the last residence hall fire death occurred in 2005, a testimony to the strong efforts being made by schools and communities across the country.

Information on campus fire safety is available from Campus Firewatch, including a Campus Firewatch Information Sheet, a map showing the locations and details of campus-related fires since 2000 as well as educational material, including the video documentary 9 Fires and The Alarming Truth.

 Recent Fatal Campus-Related Fires

  • Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky Tyler English, a sophomore, was killed in an off-campus fire
  • Albright College, Reading, Pennsylvania  Matt Rien, 19, a sophomore, was killed in an off-campus house
  • Mitchell Technical Institute/Mitchell, South Dakota Tylor Kostrzewski was killed in an off-campus fire
  • Purdue University/West Lafayette, IN One person was killed in an apartment building occupied by Purdue University students
  • University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND Sophomore Matthew Heisler was killed in an off-campus fire
  • Frostburg State University/Frostburg, MD Lateef Gazal was killed in an off-campus house fire
  • Purdue University/West Lafayette, IN  A student, Scott Notary, was killed in an off-campus house fire. 
  • Boston University/Boston, MA A student, Binland Lee, was killed in an off-campus fire that occurred across the street from the 2012 fire that injured a number of BU students, one critically.
  • University of Massachusetts/Amherst, MA  A student was killed on January 18 in an off-campus apartment fire.
  • University of Cincinnati/Cincinnati, OH   Ellen Garner died on January 14 andUni Chad Kohls died on January 7 from an off-campus fire that had broken out on New Year’s Day.  
  • St. Cloud State University/St. Cloud, MN Kyle Kopischke was killed in an off-campus apartment fire.  The fire started in the kitchen area and is believed to be accidental.
  • University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, WI Two students were killed and two more injured in an off-campus apartment fire. 
  • University of Memphis/Memphis, TN  Paul Horbelt, a sophomore, was killed in an off-campus apartment fire.  The cause of the fire is under investigation at this time.
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville/Edwardsville, Illinois  A fire in an off-campus house has killed two students. The students have been identified as Lauren D. Petersen, age 19, of Timberwood Drive, Bethalto, Illinois and Lacy V. Siddall, age 21, Briarwood Drive, Bethalto, Illinois.  The preliminary investigation points towards a power strip and laptop as the possible cause of the fire.  Initial reports are that the smoke alarm did not have a working battery in it.
  • Marist College/Poughkeepsie, NY  On Saturday, January 21, three students were killed in an off-campus house at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation.