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Fraternity house fire kills five

A joyous homecoming weekend turned tragic Friday when a smoldering sofa ignited a blaze at a fraternity house hours after a party, killing five people.

The fire started Thursday evening in the sofa during a party, Fire Chief Ralph Magill said. Residents believed it had been extinguished when they put the sofa out on the porch of the two-story wood house near the Bloomsburg University campus.

"The entire porch area was engulfed in flames and you couldn't even find the second floor," Magill said. "It took about 45 minutes to get under control."

Four people escaped unharmed from the dawn blaze that killed four men and a woman. Four of the victims and a dog were found dead on the second floor. The other victim was found on the first floor.

Batteries had been taken out of the smoke detectors in the house, a common practice during smoke-filled parties, said Coroner Ali Alley.

Five members of the Beta Sigma Delta fraternity lived in the house. Identities of the dead were not released, but all five were believed to be enrolled, said university spokesman Jim Hollister.

Positive identification could take several days with the help of dental records. Early evidence shows the victims burned to death, Alley said.

The central Pennsylvania university was preparing for homecoming weekend. The university canceled the homecoming parade and the dedication of a new library.

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