Fire Damages LSU Athletic Director's Home

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Louisiana State University athletic director Skip Bertman's home was damaged by a fire.

Bertman, his wife, Sandy, and their pet dog escaped, and no one was injured in the blaze Sunday night. The fire destroyed the garage and Bertman's office, said Howard Ward, a fire department spokesman.

``Skip's memorabilia is gone. Every picture, every book and every tape is gone,'' Sandy Bertman said.

Skip Bertman, in his third year as director of athletics, led LSU to five national titles in baseball and served as head coach of the U.S. Olympic baseball team in 1996.

``From a coaching standpoint, the saddest part is losing the memorabilia,'' he said. ``You can replace TVs and other things, but that stuff is irreplaceable.''

An investigator determined Monday that the fire started because of a short in the electrical power strip under the desk in Bertman's office, and it spread through the first and second levels of the home, Ward said.

``There is extensive damage,'' Ward said. ``I'd say the fire damaged 30 to 35 percent of the house, but with water damage about 70 percent of the house was damaged.''

Bertman and his wife were upstairs in their bedroom when their security alarm went off. Sandy Bertman went downstairs to investigate and discovered the fire. She tried to call 911, but the phone was dead, Ward said.

She rushed to back a car out of the garage and honked the horn to alert neighbors who called 911, Ward said.