Texas State students prepare for school after deadly apartment fire

Four of five people killed in July 20 blaze were former, current students

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SAN ANTONIO – As Texas State University students prepare to return to class Monday, they'll be doing so in the shadow of a deadly fire from which the school has been trying to help students recover.

The fire on the morning of July 20 tore through the Iconic Village and Vintage Pad apartment complexes, killing five people and displacing about 200. About 150 were students at the university who found themselves without a place to live, but not without support.

"Any student -- we don't care if they're on- or off-campus -- they're ours. They're our students," said Student Affairs Vice President Joanne Smith.

University officials said they've been meeting with students to see what they need help with, which for many is money.

A crowdfunding effort by the university brought in $100,000, which the school is using to help replace lost items.

"Some of them lost, you know, their iPhones, their computers, everything, clothes," said Dean of Students Margarita Arellano.

The school's off-campus living staff has helped students find new places to live, too, although that hasn't been as big of an issue.

"We don't know of anybody who doesn't have a place to live right now," Arellano said. "But if that was the case, we would help them take care of that."

The school is also offering counseling. Four of the five people killed were current or former students, including Dru Estes, 20, of San Antonio.

Arellano said it was a traumatic event for many of the survivors.

"And a lot of it is just coming back. And it's part of life, you know? You grieve and you just move on. So, we will be there to help them do that," she said.

The investigative efforts also continue. 

Although officials have said they have an origin for the fire, they have not released details about it and they haven't determined a cause.

San Marcos Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner said fire testing is ongoing and should be done by the end of October, but he expects the investigation to continue after that. 

In the meantime, legal action has already started. 

The father of one of the people killed, James Miranda, and five survivors, are suing the Iconic Village owner and managers, claiming negligence.

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