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Terra Trace Alarms Were Turned Off Before Fatal Fire

One student said he removed his smoke detector because it was annoying him the night before the fire.

Fire department officials say smoke alarms were turned off in the building where an Indiana University student died over the weekend. Freshman Renee Ohrn lived on the third floor in Terra Trace apartments near IU’s campus.

“When they did their investigation, they found that the breakers that would power the horn were in the off position,” Bloomington Fire Chief Roger Kerr says.

Kerr says that is why the hallway alarms did not sound after residents tried activating the fire pull stations. Kerr says a smoke detector in the third floor apartment also failed to go off.

“The resident reported that he had taken it down the night before because it was annoying him,” he says. “So yes, it was obviously down at the time of the fire.”

Kerr says the blaze started when something in the ceiling of a second floor apartment caught on fire and then spread throughout the building.

Fire officials say everyone should check smoke detectors, replace the battery and clean it with a vacuum cleaner if it is dirty. Still, Kerr says he is not sure if the outcome would have been different, if the smoke detectors had been working properly.

Shameka Neely

Shameka Neely, a native of Nashville, Tennessee enthusiastically joined WTIU as Senior Reporter/ InFocus Producer in the news department. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational and Corporate Communication, with a minor in Marketing and Masters of Arts Degrees' in Administrative Dynamics and Communication all from Western Kentucky University. Shameka also holds a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from Indiana University.

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