A Kansas University graduate student studying in Montpellier, France, on a Rotary Scholarship is looking for a new home after the building she was living in exploded.
The woman, Maria Angeletti, 24, was not injured in the explosion, although most of her belongings were destroyed. Maria is the daughter of Richard Angeletti, who is a professor of piano in the music and dance department at Kansas University, and Elvira Angeletti.
Maria Angeletti earned degrees in French and Italian from KU. She is on leave this year from KU, where she has completed about half the requirements for a master's degree in magazine journalism.
Angeletti used a fax machine Saturday to send a letter to her parents and her boyfriend, Andrew Arnone, a KU senior studying photojournalism. She also sent pictures and headlines about the explosion from French newspapers.
Arnone, who has talked to Angeletti over the telephone, said she told him that there was a gun and ammunition shop in the basement of the building where she was living with three other Rotary scholars. The women did not know it was there. Apparently a fire started in the shop when a man was soldering.
ANGELETTI'S roommates were Anne Varia of Florida, Kristen Pedersen of Louisiana and Eun Hee Park of South Korea.
In her letter, she described the morning of the fire, which occurred Wednesday, the second day of classes.
Varia and Park went to school while Angeletti and Pedersen went to the market to buy fruits and vegetables for lunch. The women returned about 10:15 a.m.
Angeletti wrote: "Upon entering the apartment, we heard a series of strange noises followed by something that sounded like someone dropping a piano. . . . The floor was shaking and small clouds of smoke were coming up from the carpet."
The women ran outside. Within 30 seconds, they could see black smoke billowing out of the gun shop. Moments later, the building was engulfed in flames.
THE WOMEN were left without clothing or money, Richard Angeletti said. Their Rotary checks had come late, and although they had been deposited, the bank had not yet activated their accounts. The women stayed with their landlord's mother for a while and now are living in a hotel.
Arnone said the women wouldn't be reimbursed for their belongings because they didn't insure them personally. That is especially frustrating for Angeletti, he said, because she lost some of her possessions when her apartment in Lawrence caught fire last spring.
Robert Candlin, chairman of the international student committee for the Lawrence Rotary Club, which sponsored Angeletti, said she and the others will get help finding housing and replacing their personal items from Rotary clubs in Montpellier.
THE LAWRENCE Rotary Club will provide Angeletti with money to buy clothing, new school books and other items if the French Rotary Clubs can't assist her, Candlin said.
Richard Angeletti said he knows his daughter and the other women are upset, but that they'll be able to settle down and go to school soon. They have access to their money now.
"Most of all I'm thankful that she was not hurt or burned or in any way harmed," he said.
Angeletti said he was impressed with how close his daughter and the other women had become because of the fire.
Maria Angeletti wrote in the letter: ". . . We talked about how even though this catastrophe has caused us a setback in our scholarship year, we have already learned and gained from it in a strange way. The three other girls and I have had to rely on each other for comfort and support, and therefore they have become very dear to me."