In early 2012, a series of campus-related fires occurred across the nation. This documentary will follow what happened after these nine fires and features interviews with the survivors, the families, the schools and the fire departments. This documentary tells “the rest of the story.”

What we have accomplished so far

The Minger Foundation has been successful in raising funds to underwrite the production aspect of the project, which is well underway.

We have been traveling the country, talking with students, parents, survivors, administrators, and fire officials. Everywhere we have gone, people are more than willing to tell their stories, opening up their homes to us, telling us stories that are dramatic and touching. The documentary is being edited by a recent graduate from Emerson College in Boston that we have worked with in the past that brings a story-teller’s perspective to the project.

These hours of interviews now have to be edited together into a short documentary that will tell the impact of these fires. We are trying to keep it short so it can be easily watched online, but the problem we have is that we have so much great information, so many stories, that is going to be a challenge!

The Plan

9 Fires will be made available, free of charge, here on the Minger Foundation web site in September for schools and communities to use in helping promote fire safety to students and others during National Campus Fire Safety Month. It will have something for everyone, from students to parents, university presidents and fire chiefs. We’ll be building online resources to go along with the movie so everyone will know what they can do to avoid these tragedies happening again.

So what makes these 9 Fires so compelling?

Together they provide contrasts and examples and touching stories about the impact of these fires.

Off-campus fatal house fire

This fire killed three people. The cause of the fire was never determined, but it started in the back area of the house and spread into the building.

Fraternity house fire

A theme house, similar to a fraternity, was destroyed. The students noticed the fire in a couch and thought they had extinguished it with cups of water and went to bed, but it broke out during the night. One student was severely burned, survived the fire, returned to school and graduated in May.

Off-campus house fire

Students woke up to smoke alarms, but several were trapped by the fire and had to jump, two from a first floor window, two more from a second story window and one from the third story. This student broke his leg and facial bones and had a severe concussion and brain damage.

Off-campus apartment fire

A fire started in the basement and spread up the stairway to all four floors. A student on the top floor heard the smoke alarms but ignored them at first and was trapped. She tried to escape down the back stairwell but was overcome and had to be rescued by fire fighters.

Sprinklered laboratory fire

A high-tech laboratory with highly toxic chemicals was the scene of a fire that started in the ceiling area. Fortunately, the automatic fire sprinkler system quickly controlled the fire, averting a major disaster.

Unsprinklered laboratory fire

A fire in an unsprinklered laboratory shut down an entire campus for a week, causing a major disruption.

Unsprinklered residence hall

A fire in the basement of an unsprinklered residence hall caused enough damage that the building had to be shut down for the entire semester, displacing 271 students. The disruption to the campus and the students was significant.

Sprinklered residence halls

Two fires in sprinklered residence halls serve as a counterpoint to the unsprinklered residence hall fire. In one, a fire in a residence hall room was extinguished by the activation of the sprinkler system and a fire in the second residence hall in the trash chute was also controlled by a sprinkler activation. In both cases, the students were back into the residence halls within hours.

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About the Minger Foundation

The Michael H. Minger Foundation was founded after the death of Michael Minger in an arson fire at Murray State University in Kentucky. Michael was a sophomore pursuing degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Music/Vocal Performance. Michael had a non-verbal learning disability, which is on the Autism spectrum. It was a contributing factor to his death. The Foundation’s mission is to raise the awareness and standards of campus fire safety for all students with a special focus on students with disabilities.

The Minger Foundation is led by Michael’s mother, Gail Minger, who has become a national advocate for fire safety for all students, but with a strong focus on students with disabilities. She was instrumental in the passage of the Michael H. Minger Act in Kentucky and has worked on national legislation, education and awareness.