Students Lose Everything In Union Street Fire

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Snow falls on Ohio University's campus as students shuffle to class with hoods up and faces down. The quiet scuffle of everyday routines and morning coffee runs is in sharp contrast to the fiery scene on West Union Street Sunday morning.

"It's completely gone. Like, I have nothing now," Union Street apartment tenant Cecily Sexton said.

Sexton was one of the several students who lost nearly all of her physical possessions in the fire. After celebrating her birthday Saturday night, Sexton was woken by a 4:20 a.m. call from her friend who told her to get out of her apartment.

"He calls me and he says, 'Get our of your building, it's on fire,'…I just thought he was kidding."

Sexton then smelled smoke, and woke her roommates and downstairs neighbors. She and the other tenants watched as their apartment went up in flames.

"Honestly, I thought we would be able to get back in at one point, but we never did. It's completely gone."

She says she doesn't know what would have happened if she hadn't gotten the call. "That's the scariest thing to think about is waking up to smoke in my apartment," she says.

Sexton says she doesn't have renters insurance, but isn't yet sure what that means.

"As of today, the plan is to get a new driver's license, the different cards that I've lost," She says. "I think we're going to stay in Bromley the rest of the semester, and see what happens from there."

Less than one hundred feet away, apartments at the end of the block were untouched by the flames. Apartment resident Adam McCauly was one of the 40 displaced residents Sunday afternoon. He waited in suspense to see whether or not his home survived the flames.

I didn't sleep last night. I could see the fire from where I was and I was just thinking, 'That's getting closer and closer to my house," McCauly said. "We're just so blessed.

As firefighters continued working on the scene, OU students and Athens locals joined to help. The University received such an abundance of clothes, toiletries and other donations, they had to send people away.

"All you want to do is help," Senior Hannah Cleek says in between sorting piles of clothes. "You're a student and you think, 'What if I was in that situation?'"

To help students who lost possessions in the fire, you can donate at