"Thick black smoke was coming in my door, so I decided the best idea was to just jump out the front window," Welch said. "I was just in my boxers which was really not good." He and his two other roommates knocked on neighbors' doors until one of them was awake and gave them clothes and shelter.
Firefighters battled the flames for more than an hour. Officials say the fire started in Welch's townhouse, one of six in the building. They say an electric space heater was the cause, although they don't know if the heater malfunctioned or if something combustible was too close to the vent. The townhouse was gutted; none of their belongings were saved.
Next door, Samantha Foulsham and her three roommates expected to spend Monday in class, and studying for next week's midterms...not digging their remaining possessions out of the rubble.
"There's a lot of water damage," Foulsham said. "There's a lot of debris upstairs." Her townhouse shares a wall with the one where the fire started.
"I got out of my physiology exam," chimed in Amanda Thomas, one of Foulsham's roommates. It was also Thomas' 22nd birthday--but she was all smiles despite her wrecked home.
"I was actually planning on getting sushi and going bowling," Thomas said of her birthday plans. "We're still going to do it!" said Reiley Delia, another roommate.
22 students in total were displaced from the building. The college put them up in the DoubleTree Hotel, for now. The school also provided some money to buy personal items, and the American Red Cross was at the scene providing clothing and food to the students. No one was hurt in the fire.
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