Fire ruled accidental; some Blumberg residents relocated

January 29 2008

A burning candle left unattended is the apparent cause of a Sunday night fire which damaged a residence hall at Indiana State University.

Fire officials completed their investigation of the Blumberg Hall fire today and have declared it an accidental fire, said Teresa Exline, university spokesperson.

It appears the candle was near a blanket that ignited, causing other bedding to catch on fire, fire officials indicated. University housing policy prohibits lit candles in residence hall rooms.

The university has been able to relocate all of the students impacted by the fire. Students in the lower floors of the residence hall were allowed to return to their rooms Sunday night. Students on floors 10 and 11 have been relocated to other university housing for the remainder of the semester. Students on floors 8, 9 and 12 have been temporarily placed within the university housing system until those floors are fully cleaned. The cleaning process began today and will likely take several days to complete.

UPDATE: Students on the eighth and ninth floors of Blumberg returned to their rooms Wednesday, Jan. 30. Students on the 12th floor will be allowed to return to their rooms at noon Saturday, Feb. 2.

When the fire was first discovered, some well-intentioned students attempted to use a fire hose, one of two located on each floor in Blumberg Hall, to fight the fire but could not get the hose to work, Exline stated. The hose is attached to a dedicated fire protection water line that is intended to be used by trained firefighters. Terre Haute fire officials, along with ISU environmental safety officials, tested the hose following the incident and found it to be fully operational.

“In all of our training, our staff members are told to order the evacuation of all persons and not to attempt to suppress a fire. We strongly believe that evacuation should be the main concern of all staff, and that fighting fires should be left to the professionals who have the training and equipment to handle the situation,” said Exline.

“The Terre Haute Fire Department did a tremendous job in suppressing and containing this fire. We are grateful that there were no major injuries,” she added.

Three persons were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene and one student was treated for asthma at the scene.

University and insurance officials are working to determine the amount of damage the fire caused.

Fire code applicable to Blumberg Hall does not require sprinklers. Indiana State has placed a sprinkler system in its most recently renovated residence hall and in other new facilities as well as those that have undergone major renovations.

Contact: Teresa Exline, university spokesperson, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or a texline@indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

A burning candle left unattended is the apparent cause of a Sunday night fire which damaged a residence hall at Indiana state University. Fire officials completed their investigation of the Blumberg Hall fire today (Jan. 29) and have declared it an accidental fire, said Teresa Exline, university spokesperson.

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