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Ohio State off-campus fire displaces 8 from home

Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer

Ten years to the week after a fire that claimed the lives of five college students, another house off Ohio State’s campus has fresh ashes on its porch.
Unlike the 2003 incident at 64 E. 17th Ave., all eight women who live at 2205 Summit St. were able to escape uninjured after an “accidental cooking fire” started Monday at about 2 a.m., said Paul Ferguson, public information officer for Columbus Division of Fire.
The fire on April 13, 2003, took the lives of students from OSU and Ohio University. It started on a couch on the front porch and is suspected to have been arson, but the case has never been solved.
Julie King, a resident of the three-story house on Summit Street and a third-year in human development and family science, said smoke detectors played a role in getting the women out safely.
“I woke up to the smoke alarm and at that point, one of my roommates had already gone downstairs but I hadn’t heard from her,” King said.
King said she then woke up her roommate and the two ran downstairs while King called 911. By then, about five other residents were outside, but two ran back into the house to wake up those still sleeping on the second and third floors.
Hannah Benadum, a third-year in history and a friend of those living in the house, said firefighters told her friends it was a “miracle” they woke up when they did.
Six of the eight residents are OSU students, King said.
The residents aren’t sure how the fire started because all of them were asleep, but at this point they “suspect something about the stove,” King said.
Damage was mostly contained to the kitchen and first floor, King said.
“Our kitchen is all gone, (the contents are) in our backyard, all cabinets out, burned down. We had smoke damage to our whole house. You can see it on all our stuff, everything,” King said.
Two laptops in the kitchen were also “burnt pretty bad,” she said.
It is estimated the fire caused $15,000 to $20,000 worth of damage, Ferguson said.
Dave Isaacs, spokesman for Student Life, said because most of the women are from the Columbus area, they will be staying with their families and friends until repairs have been completed. Their roommates who need a place to stay were invited to stay with the other women, he added.
Student Advocacy is working with the residents to communicate with professors about the situation and will continue to help address the students’ “long-term needs,” Isaacs said.
King said the American Red Cross also came to the scene.
“They gave us all gift (cards), or like Visa (and) MasterCards … they talked to them about how they (the Red Cross) can help,” King said.
Isaacs said the Red Cross also brought food vouchers and kits to provide for residents’ “immediate needs.”
Mary Barnum, the property owner, said the damages will take about three months to repair.

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