A fire reported late Wednesday night claimed the life of a K-State postgraduate student. The Manhattan Fire Department responded to an apartment fire at 820 Sunset and found smoke coming from the address. Upon entering the residence, firefighters found 34 year-old Vasanta Lakshmi Pallem unconscious. She was transported to Mercy Regional Health Center where she passed away from smoke inhalation. Pallem worked in the chemical engineering department at Kansas State. No one else was injured in the fire.
There were reports of individuals jumping from the apartment complex balcony, but upon arrival, emergency responders did not find anyone on the balcony. Firefighters found a small fire on the lower level of the apartment building and quickly extinguished the blaze.
Heather Reed, associate dean and director of student life, said K-State found living accommodations for students displaced by the blaze, all of who are now in hotels or staying with friends. The university is offering support to K-Staters impacted by Pallem’s death. Local American Red Cross volunteers also responded to the incident. The team of Red Cross volunteers is helping coordinate support in the form of financial assistance, shelter, and clothing.
The Manhattan Fire Department, ATF, Kansas State Fire Marshall, and the Riley County Police Department are involved in the investigation.
KMAN will bring you additional details as they become available.