BREAKING NEWS: Student burned, stabbed in Poland fire

Staff report

A female student suffered third degree burns and stab wounds early Sunday morning in Poland Hall.

Police and university officials would not confirm the name of the woman, but students at the scene identified her as Pellville freshman Melissa K. Autry.


She was flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville and is listed in critical condition, said Bob Skipper, university spokesman.

The Associated Press reported that arson is suspected.

The fire happened on the second floor, in room 214, and was put out by fire sprinklers, Skipper said. There was water damage on the first and second floor.

Campus police and Bowling Green firefighters were notified at about 4:11 a.m. of a possible fire in the dorm.

Rachael Davenport, a freshman from Reading, Pa. who lives in Poland, said firefighters carried the woman out of the dorm, with one holding her by the legs and another by the arms. The firefighters called for a medic once they cleared the building.

“She looked like a lifeless doll,” Davenport said. “She wasn’t moving. Her clothes were burnt and they put a sheet over her legs and stuff.”

Autry was black on her face and from the waist down and her hair was singed, said Amy Nussmeier, a freshman from Evansville, Ind.

Robert Mountain, a freshman from Olean, N.Y., said the students made it outside at exactly 4 a.m.

“It was mighty chilly and misty,” he said. “I thought someone pulled a prank until I walked down outside and saw fire and smoke coming out the second floor, then I saw firemen carry her out.”

Davenport said the woman wasn’t moving or making sounds.

“An officer said, ‘If you believe in prayer, start praying,” said Nina Maness, a freshman from Gallatin, Tenn.

Students had not yet been allowed back into Poland as of 11 a.m. Sunday.

“They’re not going to be able to occupy it for a while,” he said.

Fifty of 310 residents were in the building when the alarm sounded, Skipper said.

Yellow police tape was strung across the guard rail in front of the building. Displaced students played with a dog in front of Poland. One shirtless man laid across the roof of a pickup truck.

Students were allowed into the dorm at 11 a.m. to pick up belongings. Davenport walked out with a hair brush, a tooth brush, tooth paste, a bra and books to study.

“It would be real nice to fall asleep,” she said.