After the Fire: Seton Hall Fire Victims Inspire Montclair HS Students to Make Safe Choices


MONTCLAIR, NJ - Students attending Montclair High School and enrolled in the Career Internship program for seniors, were presented with an eye opening lecture on May 31. Students were presented with an intense lesson about fire safety, life choices and overcoming adversity.

After viewing the documentary, "After the fire," which is the story of Alvero Llanos and Shawn Simmons, MHS students learned of the tragic events that unfolded for the freshman roommates at Boland Hall while they were attending Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ. The film chronicles the events of that cold, horrific night and its aftermath in January 2000.

On May 24, Glen Ridge High School students received the same presentation.

Sign Up for E-News

As part of the Montclair Fire Departments outreach program on fire safety and awareness, Montclair Deputy Fire chief Robert Duncan stated, "We are pleased to bring this program back for a second year to the high school." He added that he sees the program as providing very important information as many seniors are preparing to graduate and attend college or other vocational training programs away from home.

The documentary spans through the events of January 19, 2000, where a prank turned into one of the worst fires in the history of Seton Hall and in the state of New Jersey, 3 students died and over 56 students and fire fighters were injured .

This well documented story laid the ground work for major legislation to be passed in New Jersey, becoming the first state in the nation to establish sprinkler laws requiring all buildings on college campuses to have systems installed.

The story focuses on the bond established between these two victims and shares their confusion of not knowing what to do or where to go on that fateful morning in Boland Hall. Their confusion led them to crawl through a smoke filled hall in the wrong direction, directly into the area where the fire was heavy reaching temperatures of 1600 degrees hot enough to melt metal and flesh .

Lucky to be alive, they shared their story of survival and friendship. They also shared the struggle of wanting to give up, but because of their support system of family love, faith, top notch medical care, self determination and most importantly self love, they were able to pull through.

Llanos had to come to terms with having over 60% of his upper body and face burned. Simmons too received burns to his hands and face but not to the extent of Llanos. In his healing, he was there by Llanos' side in their long recuperation, together creating a brotherhood that is beyond being blood-related. 

The presentation, graphic in detail, pushed home the importance of one knowing their surroundings, paying attention to all fire alarms and most importantly, finding the exits that are closest for emergency evacuation.

Had they crawled in the opposite direction they would have evacuated safely.

A question and answer period followed the 1-hour piece, with students asking questions pertaining to what they saw and what were the two thinking. The duo responded that their first thought was to get out of the building, but due to the past pranks with the alarm, they neglected to take it seriously. 

Students also asked what happened to the two arsonists who were responsible. Both received 5 years, but only served a few months behind bars. 

Many students left thinking about exits and taking serious the documentary. Some students expressed how they plan to be more vigilant with noticing their surroundings and deciding what to do in the case of an emergency.

Simmons made these closing comments, "Students are not invincible. Danger exists on college campuses and not everyplace is safe. Know your surroundings and know what to do because fire has no prejudice."

To date, both men are married and raising families. They travel the nation lecturing to high school and college students to raise awareness of safety.

For more information go to




TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Cedar Grove Police: No Charges Filed in Memorial Middle School Social Media Incident

March 20, 2018

CEDAR GROVE, NJ - Cedar Grove police announced that the investigation into a "concerning" comment made by a Memorial Middle School via social media in late February has concluded and no charges have been filed.

According to police, the comment, which was reportedly made on Instagram Live, could not be substantiated and there was no probable cause to file a charge.  Police ...

Bloomfield Commemorates Restoration of Historic Theodore Ward House at 41 Park Place

March 20, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The Bloomfield Township Council presented a proclamation to Lou and Cynthia Mandarakas for their restoration of the Theodore Ward House at 41 Park Place. The Mandarakases purchased the 130-year-old home in 2008 and financed the cost of interior and exterior restorations.

Built in 1887 by Theodore Hastings Ward, an early president of the Bloomfield Saving Bank, the Victorian ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, March 22, 6:00 PM

Mountainside Medical Center, Glen Ridge

Power Up your Grocery Cart

Health & Wellness


Thu, March 22, 7:00 PM

Cedar Grove High School, Cedar Grove

Orange Invitational Volleyball Tournament ...

Education Food & Drink Giving Back Other Sports


Thu, March 22, 7:00 PM

Cedar Grove High School, Cedar Grove

Orange Invitational Volleyball Tournament ...

Education Food & Drink Giving Back Other Sports

Montclair Police Blotter: Man Arrested for Animal Cruelty, Juveniles Charged with Breaking into Cars and More

March 22, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - The following blotter was compiled by the Montclair Police Department on March 3, 2018:

03-17- 2018 (Pine Street) Two Montclair juveniles (15 & 16yoa) were arrested after being observed
breaking into multiple vehicles. One of the juveniles was charged with theft, the other with Possession
of CDS.
03-18- 2018 (Eagle Rock Way) Mr. Lawrence Athill, 64yoa from ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Montclair’s AAngelsNJ Founder Selected by ECDC for 2018 Women of Excellence Award

March 21, 2018

Angelina Killane-Sims, Founder and CEO of AAngelsNJ, a Montclair based nonprofit, supporting and supplying much needed resources to underinsured, uninsured and individuals/families in our communities, in need of breast health education, breast cancer awareness and their every day needs during breast cancer treatments.  

The Essex County Democratic Committee first ...