A campus is in shock as they mourn the three young victims killed in a house fire just off of Marist College’s campus, whose identities have been revealed by a family member of one of the victims.
Kerry Fitzsimons and Eva Block were both students studying at the Poughkeepsie, New York college, according to Ms Fitzsimons’ cousin. Their friend Kevin Johnson was also killed in the blaze.
The fire – the worst in Duchess County in over a decade - happened early Saturday morning after the friends enjoyed a dinner party.
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Tragedy: Kerry Fitzsimons, left, and Eva Block, right, were both students at Marist College and living in a house off campus when they were killed in an early morning fire
Ms Fitzsimons, from Commack, Long Island, was studying Biomedical Science at the liberal arts college, according to her Facebook page.
Her sister Colleen wrote: ‘My big sister, my guardian angel, I will love you forever, my Kerry Rose.’
Gone: Kevin Johnson, a 2008 high school graduate of New Canaan High School, also died
Friends and family posted to her sister Facebook wall expressing condolences. One woman wrote: ‘I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. My heart breaks for you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.’
Family friends of 21-year-old Eva Block said she was a burgeoning designer who made her own clothes.
‘She was phenomenal at what she did,’ Philip Greenberg told the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Police confirm that Ms Block died of smoke inhalation after an autopsy was conducted.
The third victim was Kevin Johnson, a 2008 graduate of New Canaan High School in New York, according to friends and online reports, though his identity has not been confirmed by police.
The official causes of death for Ms Fitzsimons and Mr Johnson will be released pending the completion of their autopsies.
Marist College, a small liberal arts college home to around 4,200 undergraduate students is located in the town of Poughkeepsie, between New York City and the capital of Albany.
The college said in a statement: ‘The Marist community’s thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this terrible tragedy.’
The college postponed two basketball games 'out of respect for the students affected by this tragedy,' Deborah DiCaprio, Marist's vice-president said in a statement.
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Students and members of the community held a vigil at noon on Sunday; another is scheduled to be held this evening.
According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, which first reported the victim’s identities, four of the six students living in the 99-year-old house, along with three male friends, had gathered for a dinner party and went to bed shortly after midnight.
Raging fire: The 99-year-old house at 112 Fairview Avenue in Poughkeepsie was fully engulfed in flame when fire fighters arrived
All that's left: Firefighters stand by the charred remains of the house Sunday, which is now covered in a light snow
At the time that the fire was initially reported to 911 by a passer-by at about 1.30am, police chief Thomas Mauro said seven people were in the house - four residents and three male guests.
The police chief said the group had gone to bed about an hour before the fire appears to have started.
'There was no issue that they were aware of in the house when they went to bed,' he said, basing his comments on interviews with the four survivors.
An eyewitness told the Poughkeepsie Journal that she saw a woman 'fly through' a windowpane on to the street, having been thrown by her boyfriend.
Cause of death: Officials said Eva Block, of Woodbridge, Connecticut, died from smoke inhalation
'All she kept saying was that her best friend was inside,' the passer-by said.
The first fire-fighters arrived at the scene four minutes after the 911 call was placed and tried to get into the house, but were forced back by the heat and flame.
One victim was found on the second floor of the house, one was downstairs and the third was under 'considerable collapsed debris,' the police chief said.
The four survivors were taken to a hospital, where they were treated and released. They were treated for minor smoke inhalation and other minor injuries and were able to debrief police.
Much loved: Kerry's sister Colleen posted this picture of her sister, writing: 'I'll love you forever'
Studious: Kerry Fitzsimons was from Cormack, Long Island, and was studying Biomedical Science
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Mr Maeder said the fire is believed to have started on the first floor.
The remains of the house were bulldozed yesterday afternoon.
The college is providing counselling to students, and has put up the people who survived the fire in additional housing.
Services for Ms Block will be held on Monday in Connecticut, Mr Greenberg said.
A community shaken: Marist College has an undergraduate population of around 4,200 students, who held a vigil Sunday
Another deadly fire struck a college campus in 2005. A house fire killed three students at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio after a blaze erupted in the first-floor living room.
The three victims – all upperclassmen – died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
There were 13 people living in the house at the time. The other ten escaped.
The blaze started after smoking materials ignited a couch, authorities said.
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