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Student pulled from dorm fire had apparent stab wounds

Monday, May 5, 2003

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- A student pulled from a dormitory fire early Sunday had what appeared to be stab wounds, and arson investigators were trying to determine if the blaze was set, the state fire marshal's office said.

"Apparently this is a crime scene," said Ken Meredith, a spokesman for the state fire marshal's office. "There is a young woman suffering from stab wounds, and it appears that the fire was set deliberately."

A Kentucky State Police arson investigator arrived on the Western Kentucky University campus Sunday morning, said Lt. Lisa Rudzinski, a state police spokeswoman. She wouldn't release further details about the victim or the investigation.

University spokesman Bob Skipper said the student was in critical condition with extensive burns and other wounds at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., about 60 miles south of Bowling Green.

"We are aware that there are other wounds, but at this point we don't know what caused them or how they are related to all of this," he said.

About 50 people were in Hugh Poland Hall when the fire started shortly after 4 a.m. in a room on the second floor, Skipper said. He said all those who had been inside the dorm had been accounted for Sunday morning.

The fire was confined to one room in the nine-story dorm, which houses about 300 students, he said.

Clothes burned off

Andrea Pendleton, a freshman from Lexington who lives in the dorm, said she saw two firefighters carry the burned student out by her arms and legs. Emergency officials treated the victim for about 15 minutes before taking her away in an ambulance, she said.

"All of her clothes were burned off," Pendleton said.

Most of the dormitory wasn't damaged by the fire, Skipper said. He said there was smoke and water damage throughout the second floor, but students who live on the other floors were being allowed to retrieve personal items Sunday afternoon. School officials did not know how soon students would be allowed to stay in the dorm again.

The university is just wrapping up its spring session, with final exams scheduled this week.

Students milling around the dorm Sunday said it was the second fire in the dorm this semester. No injuries or evacuations occurred in the first fire, students said.


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