By George Mauzy
Four of six Ohio University students whose rental house at 64 E. Stimson Ave. sustained fire damage Saturday night have accepted the university's offer of temporary housing. Two others and a seventh resident who is not a current student are staying with friends off campus.
According to an Athens Fire Department report, firefighters were at the scene about two hours beginning about 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Most of the fire damage was confined to a first-floor bathroom; there was smoke damage throughout the house. The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause.
None of the residents was home at the time of the fire, and no one was injured.
Caroline Thomason, general manager of Best of Athens, which owns the house, said she is making arrangements for alternative housing for the residents.
"The tenants will be taken care today or tomorrow. We have several vacancies they can move into for the rest of the school year," Thomason said. "We were blessed with the fact that nobody was home and no one was hurt.
"(Dean of Students) Ryan Lombardi and Ohio University were great," she said, "and their help is appreciated."
Lombardi said he and other university staff learned of the fire as they were preparing to make rounds as members of the university's safety team for the local Halloween street party.
"We were thrilled that everyone made it out of the house safely," Lombardi said. "After we made sure everyone was OK, we brought in university counselors to help the victims deal with this traumatic experience. We will continue to reach out to them to make sure they receive what they need to recover."
President Roderick J. McDavis, his wife, Deborah, and Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith were the first university representatives to arrive at the scene.
"I'm just happy there were no injuries and the students were able to be relocated that night," McDavis said. "The Athens Fire Department did a great job and quickly got the fire under control."