CMA South Barrack Fire 2007
SBT - A group of Marshall County military cadets are being hailed as heroes after what some call the largest fire in three decades at Culver Military Academy.
It happened in the South Barracks building early Monday morning, where many of the Academy's band unit live.
10 cadets were taken to the Academy's infirmary, where they were treated and released after breathing in too much smoke. But officials say it co uld have
been much worse if not for some quick thinking that likely saved lives.
"A student was trying to study late at night, and put a cloth over the light so he wouldn't disturb his roommate. He fell asleep, and the cloth caught
fire," said Col. Richard Geier, the Academy's Cadet Commandant.
Several cadets said the building quickly filled with thick black smoke, so they decided to take action.
Cadets tried to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher, but found it hadn't been properly charged. Instead, they went back inside and did exactly what
they'd been trained to do.
"We had just had some training and a briefing the previous week, and they did exactly what they were supposed to. They closed the door to keep the fire
contained, and got everybody out," said Col. Geier.
But as fire crews arrived, the cadets took roll call, and made a troubling discovery: "They knew there was two people still in the building when we got
there," said Chief Mike Grover of the Culver Fire Dept.
This time, firefighters went back in and got both men out, but say the cadets' quick action helped save their lives.
"We wo uld've had to do a room to room search," said Grover.
It's more proof, says Col. Geier, that the values taught at Culver every day can make a difference.
"We look at this as a learning experience, and that's what this will be," he said.
All 800 cadets met for a "debriefing" as investigators from the Indiana Homeland Security department continued searching for a cause.
They have not issued a final ruling, but say the fire does not appear to be suspicious.
The displaced cadets will stay in a nearby building while repair work is underway. The Academy hopes to reopen part of the building for housing next week.
Mon Aug 27, 12:07 PM ET
Culver , Ind. - Ten teenage cadets were treated for smoke inhalation after their military school barracks caught fire early Monday, officials said.
One room was gutted and the rest of the floor was damaged. None of the boys was seriously injured at Culver Academies, he said.
The fire began after a cadet put a cloth or towel over a lamp to keep the light down while studying, then fell asleep, Church said. The fire was brought
under control after about 30 minutes and the cadets were treated at the school's health center.
"The cadets handled the situation admirably. They were orderly and disciplined," Col. Dick Geier said.
Culver, founded in 1894, has 792 students on a campus 35 miles southwest of South Bend.
The cadets displaced by the fire will live the academy's motel unit until their barracks are repaired, expected to take about a month. Classes were held
Monday as sched uled.
|| A CMA junior, Kabir Husain, removes his personal belongings from the South Barracks, following a fire early Monday. Others were also on the scene,
removing everything from the dorm so that it can be repaired. About 50 students will be housed in the campus? motel until the barracks are ready for
By Maggie Nixon Managing Editor
Culver — For students at the Culver Academies, it’s normally “lights out” around 10 p.m. But, there was a buzz of activity at the South Barracks around
1:10 a.m. Monday that had students scrambling out of their dorms.
No injuries — other than minor smoke inhalation — were reported when a blaze extensively damaged a third-floor room. The dorm housed band students.
According to John Buxton, head of schools, a returning student was studying, trying to be thoughtful to his roommate by covering a desk lamp with a towel
as he read. The student fell asleep and the towel caught fire.
Eventually, the student woke to a room filled with smoke and he then awakened his roommate. The two escaped the room and notified the proper personnel,
“They tried using the fire extinguishers. Two of the three of the extinguishers were not prepared to operate f ully,” Buxton said, “because of lack of
chemicals. This is a huge problem. The extinguishers are checked yearly; they will now be checked weekly.”
Buxton suggested to the entire student body — 792 members and employees — gathered at a school meeting Monday afternoon that they sho uld talk among
themselves and discuss the situation, keeping in mind the health and safety of their fellow students.
“The cadets did exactly what they were supposed to do,” Buxton said. “They hit the fire alarm and got out of the building. The fire was contained due to
the good work of the students.”
Buxton said it’s obvious that the way the situation was created is not something that the school condones. “Fire is a serious threat. These were good,
responsible kids and the situation got away from them. We need to think hard about what this means to us — those who take the liberty upon themselves and use hot plates and burn candles or incense. We need to improve and be squeaky clean on these issues now and going forward.”
Buxton said he does not want the students pointing fingers or placing blame for the fire: “Accidents happen and we all make mistakes. These are lessons
He credited both the fire systems and the human systems in place at the boarding school for the fact that all 50 residents in the band unit were able to
escape unharmed. “The most frightening thing is if any of these systems failed,” he said, “we co uld have had a significant tragedy.”
Buxton credited the “old battle axe” of a building being built so sturdy, with brick, concrete and stone, and the work of trucks from Culver and Plymouth
fire departments, for the main reasons why only one room received significant damage.
There was some damage to the hallway and a little water damage across from the room affected, but the most damage was contained in one room.
“When firemen come in, they bring fire hoses and axes,” Buxton said as he provided photos of the damage in the South Barracks to the students. He said the
school will be cleaning up water and smoke damage and plans to make the unit livable “in the not too distant future.” In the meantime, about 50 students will be living in the motel on campus. Buxton expects to be f ully operational in the South Barracks within three to four weeks.
The photos Buxton showed the students in a presentation in Eppley Auditorium weren’t used as a scare tactic, he said. “Fire is a very serious issue. We
must never tamper with fire equipment. This is life-saving equipment.”
The students all gasped when they saw the blackened room — which had nothing but burned walls left standing.
“This room is a charred mess,” he said. “The room was destroyed.”
The girls’ dorms nearby were evacuated and students in need were treated at the health center, while others were housed at the Woodcraft Camp overnight.
The girls were able to return to their rooms after everyone was accounted for.
Four adults live in the building — band counselor George Middleton, who was the last person out; a faculty couple living in first-floor apartment and an
intern — all escaped without injury.
The fire was contained in less than 30 minutes, although crews were on the scene until about 3 a.m.
Ten Culver Cadets Treated for Smoke Inhalation in Dormitory Fire
Picture provided by Culver Military Academy
A fire broke out early Monday morning at a barracks at the Culver Academies.
Ten cadets, all high school-aged boys, were treated for minor smoke inhalation.
The fire broke out about 1:10 a.m. on the third floor of the South Barrack at the military school about 30 miles southwest of South Bend.
One room was gutted and the rest of the floor was damaged
A school spokesman says the fire began after a cadet put a cloth or towel over a lamp to keep the light down while studying, then fell asleep.
The fire was brought under control after about 30 minutes.
The cadets, all members of the school's band, were treated at the school's health center.