Lawyer: Doomed Ohio Home Had Smoke Alarms

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- An off-campus house where five college students died in a fire on Sunday had at least six working smoke detectors and four fire extinguishers that worked but had not been used, an attorney for the owner said.

The fire killed two Ohio State students and three Ohio University students visiting from Athens, about 65 miles from Columbus. One student remained in critical condition Monday.

The cause of the fire won't be released until Tuesday, police said.

Records show that the house had passed its annual city inspection last April and was due for another inspection next month. NorthSteppe Realty manages the property for owner Michael Stickney of West Oakland Rentals.

``We've done everything that we're supposed to have done to protect these children, and, yet, this still happens,'' said attorney Douglas Graff, who represents both companies. ``If this was a purposefully set fire, which is what we believe, no place is safe enough. It could have happened anywhere.''

Graff said investigators asked questions about utilities, such as gas and electric lines. However, he said, they were more focused on the suspicious nature of the fire and the burn pattern.

Authorities say the tentative cause of death was smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Investigators were trying to determine whether an argument during the party or alcohol were linked to the fire. Partygoers said there were at least four beer kegs and a dozen cases of beer at the house.

Victims Alan Schlessman, 21, of Perkins Township near Sandusky and Kyle Raulin, 20, of West Chester both attended Ohio State and lived in the house.

The other three victims were visiting students from Ohio University: Andrea K. Dennis, 20, of Madeira, Erin M. DeMarco, 19, of Canton, and Christine Wilson, 19, of Dublin.

The neighborhood where the fire occurred is popular with Ohio State students, who rent its large, early 1900s homes. In recent years, parties there have turned violent, prompting police in riot gear to disperse bottle-throwing, car-tipping crowds. But those who live near the house where the fire broke out say it is not known as a problem house.

On Monday, there were piles of flowers on the concrete steps and front sidewalk of the house, and a picture was attached to a note: ``In loving memory of our neighbors Kyle & Big Al. We love you, miss you & we'll never forget you.''

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