Facebook Twitter

1 dead in fraternity house fire at Nebraska Wesleyan, 3 in critical condition

SHARE 1 dead in fraternity house fire at Nebraska Wesleyan, 3 in critical condition

LINCOLN, Neb. — Fire broke out in a fraternity house early Friday, killing one student and leaving three others in critical conditions, officials said.

The blaze started around 4 a.m. in a second-story room at the Phi Kappa Tau house at Nebraska Wesleyan University, said Lincoln Fire Chief Dan Wright. At least 39 people were inside at the time.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

"There was a lot of damage done," University spokeswoman Sara Olson said. "It'll be a while before anyone can move back in."

Olson said all four students were members of Phi Kappa Tau. She identified two of the hospitalized students as David Spittler, 20, of Elkhorn and Travis Mann, 22, of Beatrice. Both suffered smoke inhalation and were in critical but stable condition, Olson said.

The identities of the student who died and the other injured student were not immediately released.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of one of our students," the university said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are also with three other students who are currently being treated at a local hospital."

Friday morning, crying students hugged each other outside the red brick house, where black burn marks spread up from a second-floor window. The house did not have a sprinkler system, Wright said.

Officials plan to move the Phi Kappa Tau survivors in a vacant section of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority house on campus until their fraternity house is inhabitable again, Olson said.

Nebraska Wesleyan, a Methodist Church-affiliated liberal arts college, has about 1,800 students.