Loras College commemorates one year anniversary of Visitation fire

DUBUQUE – In the early morning of March 16, Lindsay Hottovy and her roommates were woken up by fire alarms and the smell of smoke.

“We open the door and there’s just flames everywhere and a huge gust of wind and falling debris,” Hottovy said, “it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen and experienced.”

Once they were safely outside, Hottovy and her roommates joined other students across the street where they were gathered in the parking lot and inside the Radio Dubuque building. She said all they could do was wait for answers.

She said, “We were all like looking at the building and my initial thought was like is everyone okay, that not knowing was honestly terrifying, the most terrifying thing about it.”

Sister Bernadine Curoe used to live in the Visitation when it was a convent. She says she’s shocked all students got out safely.

“Knowing how it took us so long – we were young in those days – to get up and down all of those stairs, it’s, to me, a perfect miracle that no one was injured, no one was killed,” she explained.

Sister Bernadine Cureo said she was happy to say a prayer at the memorial service the college hosted on Wednesday.

She said, “That’s a tremendous gift to me, to see how the community has rallied.”

Hottovy says the service, which consisted of two songs and a quick prayer, reminded her of the good that came out of the fire.

“Right away we had so many donations come in and just like people reach out to us, and people we didn’t even know, which was like really helpful to me and kind of eased a little bit of the pain I guess you could say.”

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