Cause of Fire That Killed IU Student Still Undetermined

by Staff on October 10, 2011 · 1 comment

in Local

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In the early morning hours of Saturday, October 1st, an apartment fire broke out at the Terra Trace apartments on the Indiana University campus, killing one student and injuring a police officer and firefighter.

At 3:36 a.m., a tenant of the apartment complex called 911 to report the fire. Shortly after firefighters arrived, they found Renee Ohrn, a 19-year-old Indiana University student from Gary, Indiana, unconscious. Ohrn, who lived in Eigenmann Hall but was spending the night with a friend, was pronounced dead at IU Health Bloomington Hospital at 4:32 a.m., according to Monroe County Coroner Nicole Meyer.

The fire reportedly started in apartment D8. Ohrn was found unconscious behind sliding glass doors in apartment D9 on the third-floor after firefighters and police helped a young woman off of that balcony and then returned to continue their search.

“She was found on the initial arrival. She was evacuated immediately,” said Bloomington Fire Department Chief Roger Kerr.

According to the autopsy report from the Coroner, Ohrn died from carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation.

Sergeant James Batcho of the Bloomington Police Department was treated for smoke inhalation and Captain Woodrow Hueston of the Bloomington Fire Department suffered dehydration.

Kerr declared that none of the building’s 12 units were inhabitable. Two of the apartments were heavily damaged by the fire, another was apparently destroyed by heat, and all of the others sustained smoke and water damage.

Five fire engines, two trucks, and two rescue vehicles were dispatched to the scene, according to Kerr:

“We brought everything we had.”

Other students, stuck on their third-floor balcony, had to climb and slide down the balcony supports. “We couldn’t stay up there,” said Jeffrey Robinson.

Cause of blaze still undetermined

The following day, October 2nd, police reported that no evidence of any criminal activity had been found related to the fire. “Nothing at this time appears to be criminal in nature,” said Bloomington Police Department Lt. Faron Lake.

“We investigate it like it’s an arson, until we find out that they’re not, so we can protect the evidence.”

Fire officials continue their investigation in an attempt to determine the cause of the fire, according to Sergeant Travis Drescher:

“We have nothing further to report on the investigation, which is ongoing. At this time, I really can’t give more details. It’s in the hands of the investigators and, as soon as we have a determination, we’ll release it.”

Ohrn recently graduated from a private Catholic school, Andrean High School, in Merrillville. There she played varsity soccer, served as a member of the homecoming court and had been selected as the prom queen.

A wake was held last Thursday in Portage, near Gary. Renee was buried Friday.

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