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IUP students safe when house burns

| Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 11:48 p.m.

Four Indiana University of Pennsylvania students were displaced on Tuesday morning when a fire next door spread to their South Seventh Street home, sending them outside in the cold.

No one was injured in the 2:58 a.m. blaze, said Ron Moreau, rescue captain with the Indiana Fire Association.

Both homes were destroyed.

IUP spokeswoman Michelle Fryling said four students were in the residence, along with a friend who had stayed there on Monday night.

“We have offered them campus housing if they wish,” she said.

The students were safely taken from the home and went to a nearby Giant Eagle store to stay warm, Moreau said.

He said no one was home at 506 S. Seventh St., where the fire originated. The roof collapsed, then 504 S. Seventh St. caught fire. The houses were just a few feet apart, he said.

Seven fire departments fought the blaze.

Moreau said the 2-degree temperature quickly caused icy streets and roadways.

“We carry eight, 5-pound buckets of salt with us. We kept salting, then the borough road crew arrived and took over. They did a wonderful job keeping us from breaking our necks,” Moreau said.

Firefighters remained on the scene until about 9:45 a.m., extinguishing hot spots, Moreau said.

A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause, he said.

Fryling said the university will work with the students to contact their professors and help with books and school supplies destroyed in the fire.

“We were on the scene early this morning. We will try to make the transition smooth,” Fryling said.

Georgia Lehman, disaster program manager with the American Red Cross, Indiana County chapter, said volunteers provided the students with quilts to help warm them.

“They told us they were going home with their families. We will do some follow-up, and if they need clothing or food, we will assist with that,” Lehman said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media.

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