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This item originally appeared in the April 28, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.

By VALERIE METREJEAN

Staff Writer

Seven female Tech students awoke early the morning of April 19 to the sights and smells of fire and smoke, and sounds of screams from the other residents fleeing the flames that started on the back porch of their house.

The historical seven-bedroom white house on 501 W. Mississippi Ave. was known by many people in Ruston through the years, but for seven seniors it had become home.

"More people were upset about the house besides us," Kelly Ford, a resident of the house and a senior marketing major, said. "Older ladies, who lived there as children, visited to see what was left."

Some people remembered the house as the tattoo shop, "The Great Divide."

Maribeth Ford, a senior photography major, said she heard the fire alarm and woke up Christen Mannon, a senior finance major, and Kelly Ford, who also lived upstairs, and ran out of the house.

Emily Allison, a senior marketing major; Melanie Bourg, a senior biology major; Kayla Smith, a senior graphic design major; and Anna Wereskla, a senior graphic design major, were leaving the lower level of the house at the same time.

"Some of the information that has been given out was wrong," Maribeth Ford said. "I don't consider myself a hero; I woke up the girls on my floor and that was it."

Neighbors began showing up soon after they got outside.

"People brought shoes, blankets and coffee, and people were even taking the clothes off their backs to give to us," Mannon said.

Mannon said Twin Oaks Apartments, located near the house, was partly evacuated when the fire started.

"We figured that once the firefighters got there, they would be able to save the house for the most part, but it seemed like forever until the fire was put out," Kelly Ford said.

Firefighters fought the blazes until after 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, but by that time the house was lost and few things could be salvaged.

"The hardest part is wanting to go home, where you are comfortable, but it's not there anymore," Kelly Ford said.

Kelly Ford also said that after two days, it was the little things she began to notice were missing.

"In class our teacher told us to get out our calculators, and I had found mine ruined at the house earlier; it made me a little emotional," Kelly Ford said.

Kelly's sister, Maribeth Ford, said she has even had flashbacks to when she was startled out of her sleep that night.

The women said they have been overwhelmed by the generosity that has been poured out from "total strangers calling to see what they can do" or people opening up their homes for them to stay.

According to officials, the cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

Kelly Ford said, "You never think it is going to happen to you."


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