EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WCCO) – Firefighters had to pull two close friends from Stillwater, Minn., who were attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, out of their burning Eau Claire apartment on Monday morning.
Ross Livermore was killed in the fire, and Jacob Clarkson had been in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center.
But he has since died as the Clarkson family sent out a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying, “today we said goodbye to our son, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew and cousin, Jacobs … We are so proud of him – and we will miss him more than words can say.”
Two other roommates, who were from Stillwater, and also University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students, 21-year-old Casey Malan and 21-year-old Garret Isakson, were treated at a hospital and released after escaping the fire.
The two other roommates were able to get out of the Monday morning apartment fire safely.
All four graduated from Stillwater High School three years ago and were in the school band together.
Livermore was studying music at UWEC. He’s remembered for his sense of humor and smile.
But for a fellow high school band member, he was much more.
Livermore was like a mentor to Joe Carlson.
“Ross was just a great inspiration for me,” Carlson said.
The two attended high school together, though Livermore is two years younger than Carlson.
“He just made it so much more fun, and with his presence, he made music, not only something to do, but to express in your life,” Carlson said.
Livermore didn’t make it out of his Water Street apartment alive.
He and his friend Clarkson were trapped inside their apartment when Eau Claire firefighters arrived, found them unconscious, and had to pull both from their burning residence.
Paramedics transported Clarkson to Mayo Eau Claire Hospital. He suffered serious burns and was later airlifted to a HCMC.
“It’s the kind of thing that we, as a university community, really need to come together to support each other,” said Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor for university relations.
“Every time I play a song in band that I remember playing with Ross, I’ll just think about him,” Carlson said, adding that Livermore will still be a guiding force behind his music.
Members of the UWEC Student Senate have put together a drive to help the two students who survived the fire, but lost everything. The Senate’s collecting clothes, money and other items, too.
The Eau Claire Fire Department said the cause of the fire is still under investigation. The fire chief said they’re focusing on a back bedroom. They estimate the fire caused more than $100,000 in damage to the apartment building.
Clarkson said they believed there were three smoke detectors in the home. Firefighters found one without a battery in it, and said they were looking into the statuses of the other two detectors.