Two burn survivors reach out to students about fire safety at Medaille College


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After a fatal fire at a college in New Jersey back in 2000, laws were passed to keep it from happening in New York State. Two victims of that fire were in town tonight to tell their stories of survival and perseverance.

The Seton Hall New Jersey fire happened more than 16 years ago. But to this day, because of the tragic outcome, fire officials inspect every single public and private college building and dormitory across New York State.

Shawn Simons, one of the survivors of the fire said, “Unfortunately we lost three of our classmates due to this fire but it was able to open up the eyes of many administrations across the country to see the importance of bringing fire safety awareness to campuses.”

Three students were killed, and dozens more were injured in a fire at Seton Hall University in New Jersey back in January of 2000. The fire was set by two students – who were later convicted of arson. The two roommates, Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos were 18 at the time, and were on the verge of death after being severely burned.

“It was a long journey for us, we lost a lot of years out of our lives because we were set back with a lot of recovery time dealing with the hospital, physical therapy and occupational therapy.”, said Alvaro Llanos.

After their long recovery, Simons and Llanos set out to travel the country to share their story. They stopped at Medaille College in Buffalo on Thursday night to speak to students and faculty about the fire. The pair also shared a documentary that was made about the fire that forever changed their lives.

The documentary is called “After the Fire”. It follows the recovery of the roommates, and showed how a dangerous prank affected so many lives.

Llanos said, “Our goal is to make sure that no one else has to go through or deal with what we went through, it was a tough time for us, and it was tragic and we don’t want any other student to deal with what we went through.”

For more information on the documentary “After the Fire”, or Simons and Llanos, go to provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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