Family and friends are mourning the loss of Alex Kierstead, a 20-year-old from Aurora, who died in a Carbondale, IL house fire on November 23. Compassionate is the word friends say best described Kierstead, a sophomore at Southern Illinois University, who delayed his return home for Thanksgiving until Wednesday to give a friend a ride home and perished in the fire early that morning.
Kierstead and three friends rented the house at 700 W. Freeman St. in Carbondale, a five-minute drive from campus. When Carbondale firefighters responded to the 4:50 a.m. call, they arrived on scene to find the house fully engulfed.
“Alex went out of his way to make friends every day,” Alex’s friend and roommate Joe Hein told the Aurora Beacon News. Those friends and family are now mourning the loss of a young man who was a talented artist and musician who lived life to the fullest.
Sadly, most fatal campus fires occur in off-campus housing, according to a report by the U.S. Fire Administration. In fact, 94 percent of fatal campus fires that occurred between 200 and 2015 took place in off-campus housing. In most cases, the dwellings lacked fire sprinklers or properly functioning smoke alarms.