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Building condemned after Transy students escape fire

Seven Transylvania University students escaped injury early Tuesday morning when the house where they lived at 438 North Broadway caught fire. The fire started in the attic from an electrical short in a light fixture, Battalion Chief Randy Gilliam said. The fire department was called at 3:51 a.m.

Gilliam said a potential tragedy was averted because the fire was smoldering when it was discovered. "We caught it pretty much in the early stage before it burst into flames," he said. "Those students were pretty lucky."

Code enforcement condemned the house Tuesday after inspectors found multiple fire code violations, said division director David Jarvis. Windows were too small to allow occupants to get out. Several electrical cords were run to space heaters and the building had no primary, working source of heat.

The property was never permitted as a rooming house, Jarvis wrote in an e-mail to Mayor Jim Newberry's office. Because the house was condemned, the students will be eligible for relcation assistance, he said. At Urban County Council'a work session Tuesday afternoon, Newberry called the fire an example of the "enormous importance" of inspecting rental property for fire code violations.

Inspecting student housing around the University of Kentucky campus for life safety issues has become a priority with Newberry in recent months. He asked council members to supply his office the addresses of property in their districts that were being operated as boarding houses. "We will follow up (with inspections) as fast as possible," he said.