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NMSU Fire Department to host fire safety event

Two men who survived a devastating fire at Seton Hall University in 2000 are scheduled to make their first trip to New Mexico State University to speak at the “After The Fire” safety event Monday.

Alvaro Llanos, left, and Shawn Simons will visit the NMSU campus on Sept. 28 to speak at the NMSU Fire Department's "After The Fire" event. Llanos and Simons survived the 2000 Seton Hall University fire that killed three fellow students. (Photo by Matthew Orton)

The event, which will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28, is free and open to the public. It will be in the grassy area between Chamisa Village buildings A and H near Corbett Center.

Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons will speak at the event at 7 p.m., and host a screening of the documentary, “After The Fire: A True Story of Heroes & Cowards.” In January 2000, the two men were roommates in Seton Hall’s freshmen residence hall when a fire broke out as they slept. They were awakened by fire alarms but thought it was another false alarm, since there were more than 30 false fire alarms the previous semester.

The men managed to escape the building and survived by remembering what they learned during childhood. They got on their hands and knees. However, both men suffered serious burns. Three fellow students died in the fire, and 56 other students and firefighters were injured.

“The students didn’t pay attention to the fire alarms and it changed their lives forever,” said NMSU Fire Chief Johnny Carrillo. “Now they (Llanos and Simons) look for alternate exits wherever they go. They travel around the country as guest speakers because they want to prevent other students from going through the same thing they went through.”

Monday’s event will also feature the Doña Ana County fire safety trailer, where participants can put out a simulated fire inside of a mock kitchen. Children will also learn about Exit Drills in the Home, or E.D.I.T.H., so they will know how to escape a fire in their home.

The fire safety trailer will also make stops at Myrna’s Children’s Village from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday, and at Preciado Park from 1 to 4 p.m.

The “After The Fire” event is sponsored by Greek Life, Housing and Residential Life, the NMSU Fire Department, the NMSU Police Department and the Office of the Dean of Students.