May 6, 2011

Student dies in Collegetown fire

Campus memorial for Brian Lo '11
A campus memorial for Brian Lo '11 will be held Wednesday, May 11, at 2 p.m. in Sage Chapel on campus. A reception will follow in the Memorial Room of Willard Straight Hall.

A Cornell student died in an accidental fire in an apartment building at 107 Cook St. in Collegetown in the early hours of Friday, May 6. He has been identified as Brian Lo, 21, a senior in the School of Hotel Administration from East Rockaway, N.Y. An autopsy is scheduled to be conducted May 7 at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y.

The Ithaca Fire Department was dispatched to the scene after a 911 call shortly after midnight. They arrived in about two minutes from the nearby Collegetown fire station, according to Deputy Fire Chief Tom Parsons, and found the first and second floors heavily engulfed in flames.

Thirteen students lived in eight apartments in the building. Apparently six or seven were in the building at the time, Parsons said. Firefighters searched all four floors and the basement of the building. The victim was found in a rear apartment on the first floor.

"Our hearts and minds go out to the friends and families of all the residents of the house," said Susan Murphy, vice president for student and academic services, in a statement. "A community support meeting will be held and information will be made available as we have final details. I am grateful for the quick response and assistance from the Ithaca Police Department and the Ithaca Fire Department."

An investigation is still in progress, Parsons said. The building was up to code and equipped with a fire alarm system and smoke detectors throughout the building, he said, but it is not yet known if they were in working order. Anyone with information pertinent to the investigation is asked to call the Ithaca Police Department at 607-272-3245 or 272-9973.

The fire spread to upper floors and the roof structure and eventually became so intense that firefighters had to leave the building and fight it from the outside. Firefighters from Cayuga Heights, Lansing and Newfield assisted, with support from Bangs Ambulance, Ithaca Police and Cornell Police. It took about three hours to control the fire, Parsons said.

Cornell Student and Academic Services and the local Red Cross have been assisting the displaced students.

Support services are available to all members of the Cornell community. Students may consult with counselors from Gannett Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) by calling 607-255-5155. Students may also speak with a peer counselor by calling EARS at 255-3277. Employees may call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 800-327-2255 (select option 1 for EAP). An Ithaca-based CrisisLine is available at 272-1616. For additional resources, visit the Caring Community website at http://caringcommunity.cornell.edu/help.cfm.