By JASON MCCARTHY and MIKE TALIAHAssociated PressWriter/Senior WriterColumbia University of Bridgeport’s university campus is seen on Wednesday, May 6, 2016, in Columbia.
(AP Photo/David Goldman)COLUMBIA, S.C. (Reuters) – A Columbia University student escaped the city’s historic fire by walking more than 300 yards (482 meters) from the burning building and climbing into a nearby building and jumping to safety.
A Columbia University campus is pictured on Wednesday May 6 in Columbia (U.S.).
(AP photo/David Gold)COLOMBO, South Africa (Reuters): A student who escaped a fire at Columbia University on Saturday was spotted by a passerby and helped by firefighters who found her about 300 yards from the flames in the university’s main campus, university spokesman David Gold said.
The student, who is being treated at a hospital in South Africa, was identified by her friend, the spokesman said, but he could not say how she was able to make it safely to safety, as the fire was well advanced.
Columbia University is the first of the nation’s four top-ranked public universities to be shut down by the U.S. government after the fire that destroyed the main campus and forced hundreds of thousands of students to evacuate.
The university is also under fire from state lawmakers for its handling of the disaster.
Columbias students who survived the blaze were allowed to return home and take classes on Saturday.
Gold said Saturday’s rescue was a lucky escape from a blaze that engulfed the Columbia University building in the early hours of Saturday, and that the university is cooperating with state and local authorities in their investigation.
“There are a lot of questions left unanswered,” Gold said on the university campus in downtown Columbia.
“The university will continue to cooperate with state authorities and the federal government.”
The university is now looking for any survivors who may have been displaced, and the university plans to reopen in about a week.
The Columbia fire broke out Saturday morning, igniting a massive fire that engulfed most of the building, forcing the evacuation of many thousands of Columbia students and hundreds of staff members.
Firefighters rescued about 20 students and staff from the building on Saturday, but there was no immediate word on the identities of the remaining students.
Columbian officials have been under fire for their handling of campus safety after the school’s student body, including faculty, was heavily impacted by the fire.
They also faced a fire in August that severely damaged buildings and damaged the school and surrounding communities.
The school’s president has also faced criticism for his handling of student safety issues.
The fire on Saturday left dozens of Columbia firefighters battling the blaze in an attempt to save the university and students.
The fire was eventually brought under control late on Sunday.
The university has been closed since the blaze, which broke out around 7 a.m. local time, after a campus spokesman told local news outlets that the fire had begun spreading from a dormitory.
In an email to students, the school said that it would remain open until further notice and that its campus would remain closed for the duration of the fire investigation.
(http://bit.ly/1BzPQtB)Columbia has become a symbol for the nation after a series of high-profile college campus arson attacks in the past few years.
In June, a gunman set off a blaze in a dorm room of the school that killed six people and injured 19 others.
In August, a shooting at a nearby high school left seven dead and three injured.