This story was updated at 2:25 p.m.
A St. Thomas student was killed in a house fire on the 1700 block of Selby Avenue Saturday morning, according to Doug Hennes, vice president of university relations.
The student, 20-year-old sophomore Michael Larson from Woodbury, was sleeping on a couch when the fire broke out, and he was dead by the time firefighters arrived and broke down the door, Hennes said. The house, at 1795 Selby Ave., is next to the Blue Door Pub.
There were five people hanging out at the house last night, and one went home, Hennes said. The rest went to bed upstairs at 1:45 a.m., and Larson slept on the couch on the first floor.
“We know three of the four lived there. … It’s a tragedy and we extend our sympathy to the family,” Hennes said. He said one of the people at the house the night of the fire was not a St. Thomas student.
When firefighters arrived at the house at 3:15 a.m., the house was fully engulfed in flames, Hennes said. Firefighters found two males and a female outside the house, and tried to rescue Larson, but it was too late, St. Paul Fire Chief Steve Zaccard told the Star Tribune.
The three survivors jumped from a second-story window to escape. They suffered smoke inhalation and minor injuries and were taken to Regions Hospital, Zaccard said.
The cause of the fire, which started on the front porch, is under investigation but does not appear to be suspicious at this time, according to a St. Paul fire marshal report. The fire, heat and smoke caused an estimated $120,000 in damages to the building and an additional $40,000 in damages to the home’s contents, according to the report. The house was not required to have a residential fire sprinkler system and no nearby homes were damaged.
Student Daniela Flores said Larson will be missed.
“Carson [Larson’s nickname] was such a nice guy, very easy going and always knew how to cheer you up with his crazy dances,” Flores said. “They always made me smile.”
Neighbor Aide Elakhe said he was asleep when the fire happened, but he woke up when he heard the noise. He said the house was in flames, and he saw authorities remove one victim.
“It was horrendous. It was terrible,” Elakhe said. “It was one night I wish I didn’t go to sleep early.”
The fire department reports that preliminary indications show the fire started on the porch outside the house, Hennes said. But it’s not clear how the fire started.
St. Thomas Associate Director of Public Safety Michael Barrett said Public Safety does not have information to release because Public Safety did not respond to the fire.
Some St. Thomas students have created a publicly available Facebook rest-in-peace page for Larson. There will be a special prayer service for the student and friends in the St. Thomas Chapel tonight at 6 p.m., Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Canney said.
“We are all grieving the loss of our student,” Canney said.