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Article published September 4, 2012
SRU student leaps to safety during fire
SLIPPERY ROCK —Blinding smoke and panic forced a Slippery Rock University student to jump out of a second-story window after fire broke out at the Cooper Street Apartments this morning. Down below, Dilshani Madawala’s neighbor was there to catch her. The Sri Lanka native, barefooted and dressed in a night shirt, was unharmed after the successful 12-foot leap of faith. At 2:50 a.m., firefighters started to evacuate several other tenants in the same building. A short time later, the blaze was out. Damage was estimated at $100,000 but no one was hurt. “It could have been a lot worse,” said Chief Dave Taggart of the Slippery Rock Volunteer Fire Company. “Those apartments share a common roof. If we had got here a half hour later, we would have had a big problem.” Taggart credited working smoke detectors with alerting tenants to the fire. Investigators believe wires in a first-floor water heater shorted out and sparked the fire.