Renewed Calls For Fire Safety Regulations, 20 Years After Deadly Seton Hall Blaze

Peter Haskell
January 17, 2020 - 3:39 pm
Seton Hall Dorm Fire

Ed Hill/, via Imagn Content Services, LLC


SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (WCBS 880) — On Jan. 19, 2000, a dorm fire that started as a drunken prank claimed the lives of three Seton Hall students and injured more than 50 others.

The fire brought national attention to campus fire safety across the nation and droves of colleges and states sought to revamp fire prevention practices and laws in the months after the tragedy.

Nearly 20 years later, survivors of the fire remembered the horrific blaze and continued to push for fire safety regulations on all college campuses.

One survivor, Alvaro Llanos described the night to WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell on Friday.

“Once I found that exit, I opened the door and out of the corner of my eye I see a fireball. It hits my back, lit me on fire and I fell into the stairway,” he said.

Llanos was 18 at the time and suffered burns on over 50% of his body. He was hospitalized for nine months and was left with permanent scars.

Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simon
Peter Haskell/WCBS 880

Llanos and his former classmate, Shawn Simon, now share their experiences across the country, hoping to teach the importance of safety measures.

“I talk to college students and high school students all across the country about the importance of fire safety, the importance of fire prevention,” he said.

Meanwhile, Congressman Bill Pascrel wants the federal government to provide fire safety grants to colleges.

He says the money would be spent on alarms, sprinkler systems and communication systems.

On Sunday at 6 p.m., Seton Hall will mark the fire's 20th anniversary at its annual memorial Mass in the university chapel.