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‘After The Fire’ documentary shown on campus: Dorm fire survivors share their trial by fire

Posted February 23rd, 2012 by UHDS News

[Corvallis Gazette-Times, Feb. 23, 2012] — It was a Wednesday about 4:30 a.m. when Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons woke up to a fire alarm in their freshman dorm room at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. The two thought it might be a drill until they opened their door to find thick smoke. They began crawling on their hands and knees, searching for an exit. They had too much adrenaline to be scared.

“The number one thing we were thinking was we need to get out of here and we need to try to get out of here alive,” Simons said.

“We were in survival mode,” Llanos added.

The two men, who were 18 at the time, didn’t know they were crawling directly toward the fire. The ceiling collapsed, and a fireball fell on Llanos. He suffered third-degree burns on 56 percent of his body. Simons burned his hands and almost lost four fingers because the floor seared his hands.

That fire on Jan. 19, 2000, killed three students at the dormitory and injured 58 others. Simons and Llanos were two of four who were seriously burned. The fire had started in a communal lounge in the middle of their third-floor hallway when two residents had set a paper banner on fire.

The friends, now both 30, told their story to about 300 Oregon State University students and staffers Wednesday night while also presenting a documentary of their experience “After the Fire” with the film’s director Guido Verweyen. The film chronicles Llanos’ and Simons’ recovery and their friendship that helped them through it.

The presentation at the LaSells Stewart Center was organized by Fire Prevention Officer Jim Patton of the Corvallis Fire Department. It was paid for by 10 nonprofit organizations.

Read the full article by Emily Gillespie.


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