The Stevens Point Fire Department was notified of a fire reported by a neighbor on Sunday, Jan. 24, a day before the first day of the Spring semester. Nine University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students awakened and found their house ablaze at 2301 Main Street.
Starting approximately at 9 a.m, the fire at the two story-home located on the corner of Main Street and Illinois Avenue displaced the inhabitants.
Earlier in the same week, another fire occurred at 1717 Main street, displacing three individuals, two of whom are current University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students and the other a recent graduate.
Fortunately, for all involved and affected, there were no casualties or fatalities. However, there was a large amount of damage done to the property and most possessions were destroyed. There was not much that was salvageable making the loss of the belongings hard for the affected students.
Once the fires were put out, the investigators began the process of identifying the origins and causes of each of them.
Mark Schoeberle, Stevens Point Fire Lt., ruled and designated the fires as electrical fires caused by remodeling and the older wiring in the homes. The fires started in the attic of the homes.
In both instances the fires were deemed accidental by investigators.
”In regards to fire safety, you should always make sure to have working fire detectors,” Schoeberle said, ”it actually prevented fatalities in one of the houses. The tenants and the landlords are not responsible.” he added.
Community members, faculty and fellow students were shocked by the scenes.
“I saw the second fire on Sunday at the house on Main St. while I was walking to work. There were at least 3 fire trucks and the street was completely blocked,” said one of the onlookers, Melissa Lemens, a senior art student. “I was surprised because it had been pretty quiet all winterim before that,” she continued.
In the following days since the fires, the tenants received ample support from the student body and the surrounding Stevens Point community.
”It’s odd that two fires happened in the same week,” Another student, Hayley Nelson, sophmore international studies major, commented. ”I hope the students can put the incident behind them and move on.”
The community and university have banded together to ensure that the student’s lives and education are disrupted as little as possible since the fires occurred a week before the Spring semester was due to start.
The displaced students were offered on-campus housing by the university and the offer was accepted by one of the students whilst the others found housing with friends and families near-by according to the Stevens Point Journal Newspaper.
To minimize these instances from occurring, renting students should always ensure to follow fire safety rules and regulations that are already in place. Knowing what steps to follow and where the exists are in case a fire does break out in one’s home is key.