One person killed in off-campus fire at Frostburg State University, Maryland
For Immediate Release
Ed Comeau, Publisher
BELCHERTOWN, Mass. February 15, 2014 – UPDATED: 5:50 p.m. Eastern – One person was killed in an early morning fire on Friday, February 14, in an off-campus house at Frostburg State University. According to Frostburg State University, the victim has been identified as Lateef Gazal, a senior majoring in Business Administration. Two other occupants, both students, were able to escape the fire. The victim has not been identified pending an autopsy and notification of the next of kin. In 2010, two students were killed in an off-campus house fire in Frostburg.
This is the second fatal fire of the 2013/2014 academic year. Since 2000, 164 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 and decks
Since 2000, there has been a definite downward trend to campus-related fire deaths since its peak in 2006-2007 with 20 fatalities, but off-campus housing is still the greatest risk where over four out of five fire deaths occur. 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.
Recent Fatal Campus-Related Fires
- Frostburg State University/Frostburg, MD One person 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.