Fire destroys Blue Course Drive apartment building

Fire at The Park at State College

Alpha Fire Company fights a fire at an apartment building at The Park at State College on Blue Course Drive.
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Alpha Fire Company fights a fire at an apartment building at The Park at State College on Blue Course Drive.

A fire destroyed an apartment building Wednesday at The Park at State College off Blue Course Drive.

The fire started at about 7:30 p.m. near the top of the three-story building at 348 Blue Course Drive, according to Alpha Fire Company Assistant Chief Shawn Kauffman.

It was a three-alarm fire, which was under control by about 8:15 p.m. No resident or firefighter injuries were reported to Kauffman, he said at the scene.

The fire started at the exterior of the first floor and traveled up the side of the building, engulfing and then collapsing the attic onto the third floor. Smoke and water damage was expected throughout the building, but firefighters were trying to salvage the first and second floors.

Kauffman said the cause of the fire is unknown and under investigation.

Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said 48 students were displaced due to the fire.

“Obviously, this is a difficult situation and our Office of Student Affairs has been alerted and staff have reached out to these students,” Powers said. “It is my understanding all of the students have shelter for this evening and into the week.”

Powers also said Student Affairs is working on arrangements to place displaced students on campus.

“They need to call our Residence Life Office to exercise this housing option, and hopefully we will be able to accommodate,” she said. “Student Affairs also makes efforts to reach out to the faculty of these students to confirm that they were fire victims so that hopefully faculty will provide them certain accommodations regarding their academic work.”

Counseling will also be made available.

Property management arranged for housing for the displaced residents. Penn State Student Affairs and the Red Cross were contacted to assist management with other services needed.

Penn State juniors Sunny Mancini and Hannah Corrigan, who live in an apartment near the one that was on fire, began efforts to donate food, clothing, blankets, shoes and other items for the displaced students. Corrigan said her sorority sisters in Gamma Sigma Sigma were also gathering belongings to donate.

“It’s just your initial reaction,” Mancini said. “A lot of students lost everything they have here, so you’ve got to give back to them.”

Students from the building that caught fire gathered in the clubhouse to meet with The Park’s staff.

Serena Carter, a senior who lives on the third floor, said she left campus when she found out that her building was on fire. She only has her laptop and no extra belongings.

“I’m lucky the fire wasn’t on my half of the building, but there’s probably smoke and water damage everywhere in the building,” Carter said. “I’m trying to keep myself together, but I’ve got an exam and a paper due tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do. I’m lucky I’ve got friends who are supporting me.”

Bystanders were worried about the students in the building.

“I feel sorry for all of them,” senior Katie Greiner said. “It’s unfortunate. We’re a few weeks away from the end of the semester, and they lost everything.”