Menomonie House Fire Kills 3 UW-Stout Students

CLICK HERE for a photo of the fire, taken by Amrit Kunwar, who lives in the back apartment unit at the house.

MENOMONIE, Wis. AP) -- The Menomonie police chief says investigators believe the fire which killed three University of Wisconsin-Stout students at an off-campus duplex Saturday was accidental.

Chief Dennis Beety said they believed, in his words, "it was nothing but a horrific and tragic accident." But he declined to discuss further details.

Battalion Fire Chief Denny Klass declined to comment on what may have ignited the blaze or other details. He says officials are waiting to get a report from the state fire marshal who investigated the matter along with the Menomonie police and fire departments.

Klass says he expects that report to be available soon.

But Beety says toxicology reports being done by the State Crime Lab are not expected to be completed for about a month.

Beety said yesterday that a bottle of alcohol was found with the top off of it. But he said that didn't mean the students were drinking at the house.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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A fire at a two-story structure at 1415 8th St. East in Menomonie Saturday morning claimed the lives of three University of Wisconsin-Stout students.

The university says Scott A. Hams, 23, of Hayward, April C. Englund, 21, of West St. Paul, and Amanda Jean Rief, 20, of Chaska, Minnesota.

Lieutenant Wendy Stelter from the Menomonie Police Department says preliminary reports show the students died from smoke inhalation and suffered no trauma.

Firefighters got the call at about 3:30 Saturday morning.

"The residence was heavily engulfed with smoke when our first officer arrived. He entered the residence and he had to crawl on his hands and knees,” said Menomonie Police Chief Dennis Beety.

"Moderate smoke was showing from the basement, the first floor and the second floor of a two story duplex,” said Menomonie Fire Chief Jack Baus.

Baus says several people from the rear unit of the duplex escaped and called for help.

He says fire alarms were sounding when firefighters arrived.

That's when he says they used thermal imaging gear to find the three victims, all on the second floor.

"I'm uncertain of what their activity was at the time, but they each had their individual bedrooms and they were found in their own room,” said Beety.

Investigators say only April Englund's name was on the lease to the duplex.

They assume the other two students were guests staying overnight.

Baus says rescuers tried to revive the victims, but they were unsuccessful.

"Resuscitation was attempted from the moment we removed the victims from the home until care was transferred to Red Cedar Medical staff,” said Baus.

He says all three were pronounced dead at the hospital.

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire as well as where it started.

Police say toxicology tests and autopsies for the three students are scheduled.

From Stout's Web Site:

Memorial Observance Scheduled
A memorial wall has been set up in the Price Commons to allow students and staff to share their thoughts about the victims.

The Bowman Hall bell will toll at 11:10 a.m., followed by an observed moment of silence in memory of the victims.

Campus Ministries will lead a memorial candlelight vigil at the Grandview Terrace, Memorial Student Center, at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 7. Counselors will be available at the vigil.

Funeral Service Information:
April C. Englund:
Visitation: Wednesday, April 9, 4 – 8 p.m.
at Johnson Peterson Funeral Home in White Bear Lake

Funeral: Thursday, April 10, at 11:00 a.m. at
First Baptist Church, downtown St. Paul

Amanda Jean Rief [tentative -- check back]
Visitation: Tuesday, April 8, evening

Funeral: Wednesday, April 9

Scott A. Hams [tentative -- check back]
Visitation: Thursday, April 10, evening
Anderson Nathan Koerpel Funeral Home in Hayward, Wisconsin

Funeral: Friday, April 11
Hayward Wesleyan Church, Hayward, Wisconsin

Grief Support
Grief Support
Tips for Coping With Student Deaths

Tips for Students
Tips for Faculty
Tips for Families

Monday through Friday — 8:00 to 4:30 p.m.
Counseling Center, 410 Bowman Hall, 232-2468.

If you witnessed the fire or have photos or video, please call NewsCenter 13 at 715-839-9328 or e-mail news@weau.com.


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