FROSTBURG, Md. (AP) — One person died and two escaped with minor injuries from an early morning fire Friday at a house rented to Frostburg State University students, Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office said.
It wasn’t initially clear if the deceased victim was an FSU student. All three of the home’s other occupants attended the school, FSU spokeswoman Elizabeth Medcalf said.
The victim’s body will be taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for identification and autopsy, Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire said.
He was later identified as Lateef Gazal, a senior at Frostburg majoring in Business Administration.
Alkire said investigators were trying to determine the cause of the fire in the two-story home on Bowery Street. The building was a complete loss, with partial collapse of the second floor into the first floor. Alkire said.
The victim’s remains were found on the first floor, but may have fallen from the upstairs level when the second-floor collapsed, he said.
The blaze was called in by one of the home’s occupants shortly after 5 a.m., he said.
Alkire said one of the survivors jumped from a second-floor window and the other escaped out the front door. Both are men, he said.
A fourth resident of the home wasn’t home when the fire broke out, Alkire said.
Alkire said firefighters were inside the house, battling the blaze, when they became aware of the impending second-floor collapse and backed out.
He said firefighters were not hampered by snow from Thursday’s storm. About 22 inches fell Wednesday and Thursday in Frostburg, according to a National Weather Service trained spotter report.
In a statement, Frostburg officials said, “We have received a tentative identification of person who passed away in yesterday morning’s fire on Bowery Street, although the official confirmation of his identity will be made by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
We believe the deceased to be, as we feared, one of our students. His name was Lateef Gazal, and he was a senior in our Business Administration major. We offer our deepest condolences to Lateef’s family and friends, and we ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers and offer them support in these difficult days to come.
Lateef lived in Bowie and was a member of Delta Sigma Pi, the professional business fraternity; the Marketing Association; and the African Student Association.
As we determine his family’s wishes, we will forward information about any memorials that may be planned, including any on campus.
A lot of interest has been expressed in ways to help the surviving victims of this fire, and Student and Educational Services is working to coordinate efforts. We will update the campus as information becomes available.”
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