Edward McFadden – Staff Writer
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In the aftermath of a multi-building fire on Thursday, March 23, 13 families are on the path to recovery. The fire destroyed two apartment buildings located at 2nd Avenue in Clarion. This brought the community and university together in an effort to provide disaster relief for the displaced students and community members.
Trooper David Powell was quoted as saying that further investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Unit would continue.
Reports indicated that damages to the two buildings were nearly $1.5 million, before accounting for the personal items that were destroyed in the fire.
In an email announcement the following afternoon, Vice President for Student Affairs Susanne Fenske spread the news of the event. She said that the Center for Leadership and Involvement was collecting donations of living necessities such as clothing, toiletries and food.
Fenske went on to mention that two students and one employee of Clarion University were among the tenants who lost all of their living arrangements in the fire.
On behalf of the student population, the Advisory Board for Leadership and Engagement (ABLE) collected and distributed donations: monetary and otherwise. Sophomore paralegal major and chairman for ABLE’s committee Anthony Servette reported that he and Kylee Culver, also a sophomore, began a drive for donations two days after the fire.
“We [ABLE] understand that the community is important. So important that we are willing to go out of our way with good faith to give back and to take care of those who help us afford higher education,” said Servette.
“Without them, we could not do what we do. To me personally, this is what I live for.”
Additional support came in the form of housing. Assistant Director of Leadership and Involvement Kelly Ryan reported that the two displaced students were moved into the Suites on Main following the fire. The students were also reimbursed for lost textbooks.
Donation drives for the fire relief have officially come to an end for ABLE, Servette reported.
He said, “We are collecting for the student resource room that helps students if they need toiletries, utensils or food.” One student, Cammeron Ogden, whose apartment was among those burned, reported that she lost almost all of her possessions, including a newly purchased laptop.
Ogden, a first-year graduate student studying speech language pathology, left her apartment in the complex for a meeting on campus that she expected would be brief. Anticipating an early return, Ogden brought very little with her.
That night, the American Red Cross gave victims of the fire funds to stay in local hotels.
After spending some nights at home and then with a co-worker, Ogden was housed in a room in the Suites on Main, a move organized by Fenske.
Ogden called the days following the event a “whirlwind,” and reported feeling grateful for the response of the community.
“I was overwhelmed by the amount of love and support that I, and the other victims, received from the community and from the university itself,” said Ogden. “And it makes me proud to be a part of the Clarion University community.”