Nov. 7, 2007
By George Mauzy
A Tuesday afternoon house fire at 134 Mill St. displaced five Ohio University students, who escaped without injury.
The fire was reported at 4:16 p.m. to an Athens 911 dispatcher and is believed to have originated in the second floor and attic area of the two-story house, where most of the damage was contained. The Athens Fire Department responded to the scene and quickly got the fire under control. Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause.
One of the residents, second-year student David Gold of Moreland Hills, Ohio, said he was approaching the house shortly after 4 p.m. when he noticed smoke coming from the attic area. He immediately alerted his roommates inside to evacuate the house.
"The cause of the fire is still undetermined, and the house is uninhabitable tonight, but the good news is nobody got hurt," Athens Fire Chief Bob Troxel said Tuesday.
Ohio University Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Rich Carpinelli also was at the scene to let the affected students know the university could offer them temporary room and board and help with logistics, such as informing professors.
"In these types of situations, the university responds to the needs of the students," Carpinelli said. "One of our primary goals is to make sure the students get back on track as quickly as possible and continue their academic studies with minimal interruptions."
Troxel estimates the fire caused approximately $50,000 in structural damage to the house and $10,000 in content loss.
Rabbi Danielle Leshaw said she does not believe the students will be able to move back into the house this quarter. She planned to meet today with the students and their parents to help determine what housing options are available to the students.
Carpinelli said last night the university could provide temporary housing.
All five residents of the house are part of a new, experimental Jewish housing cooperative. The students set up a kosher kitchen practices and celebrate Jewish holidays and customs together. Residents received exemptions from the university's requirement to live on campus. Hillel offers support and programming to the more than 800 estimated Jewish students on the Ohio University campus.