Two years after deadly fire, fraternity moves into new house - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Two years after deadly fire, fraternity moves into new house

OXFORD, MS- It was an emotional day for Alpha Tau Omega members as they moved into their new house.

Nearly two years to the day after a devastating fire killed three fraternity members and destroyed their house, members began occupying a new building on the same site.

Kathy Workman's son was one of only two who escaped from the lower level of the house.  "That was one of the first things I said, 'does the basement have plenty of windows and doors' and it does," she said. "It's great, and kids don't live down there."
     
According to Jeffery Alford at the University of Mississippi, the new ATO house is considered state of the art when it comes to safety.  "Smoke, fire, heat alarms, sprinkler systems," he said, "the building is constructed entirely of steel and concrete."
    
Every bedroom has two sprinklers and the system is designed to automatically notify the fire department if there's an emergency.

Outside, three magnolia trees can be seen from the fraternity's new house. Each has the name of one of the brothers killed in the blaze.  There are also pictures of them in the house, and pieces, like a bible, salvaged from the ashes that serve as reminders for a fraternity that's been split apart for two years.

"We learned that it's not a house or central meeting place on campus that defines our brotherhood," said chapter president Nathan Gray. "It's how close we are, and how much we support each other, and how much support we get from our friends, family, and alumni."
     
Members said If that is the measure, the house is built to last.

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