DUBUQUE, Iowa — Early Wednesday morning (March 16), a fire broke out in the Loras College Visitation Hall at the corner of Alta Vista Street and University Avenue in Dubuque. All 45 students and staff are accounted for and were evacuated safely, according to Jim Collins, president of Loras College.
“Thankfully, through the selfless actions taken by students, staff, emergency personnel and community members, there were no reported injuries,” Collins said. “And while the damage to the building is a great loss to the college and the historical fabric of Dubuque, we are extremely blessed that an unimaginable tragedy was avoided.”
Firefighters remained on the scene throughout the day and escorted students into the building to retrieve belongings left behind. Fire officials have yet to confirm the cause of the fire, but initial reports are that lightning might be to blame.
The three-story building, more than a century old, sustained significant damage. Loras College officials have yet to determine the full financial impact of the fire.
Staff has found temporary, on-campus housing for all of the displaced students and is finalizing housing options for the remainder of the semester. As that effort unfolds, college officials continue to assess the immediate material and emotional needs of the students.
“We expect that many students will begin the grieving process normal to anyone who has lost a home,” Collins said. “Our counselors are already working with students and we have a network of faculty and staff who can lead group discussions to talk through today’s events.”
Donations to help the students affected by the fire can be made at any American Trust office in Dubuque, Dyersville, Farley and West Des Moines. Checks should be made payable to Loras Visitation Fund.
Photo: The scene in front of Visitation Hall on the Loras College campus the afternoon of March 16. (Photo by Dan Russo/The Witness)