LU Mourns Loss of International Students Killed in Fire

Victor Kwatemba

Reporter: Lauren Compton l Videographer: Jemon Haskins

Lynchburg, VA - International students at Liberty University are mourning the loss of two men who died in a Lynchburg house fire Sunday morning.

Investigators say 22-year-old Victor Kwatemba and 21-year-old Philemon Onyango died in the blaze on Valleydale Drive. Fire officials say something caught fire in the kitchen of the basement, starting the blaze that killed the two men.

It's a loss that has rocked the tight knit international community at LU. Kwatemba and Onyango came to Lynchburg from Kenya to study at LU.

LU officials say Kwatemba was studying engineering, one of the hardest majors at the university. And, friends say he was excited about starting a new job on campus Monday. His roommate Onyango only attended LU for a semester in 2009, and he did all he could to help new students get adjusted to the area.

International students say the two were more than just friends, to many they were brothers.

"They were the kind of guys that would fill your heart up with joy. We would be smiling all the time, joking, playing cards, shooting pool," said Victor Wanjohi, a friend of Philemon and Kwatemba.

"It's really hard for everybody to really get along with this, but as time goes by they can," said Ibraham Sesay, a friend of Philemon and Kwatemba.

Investigators say the basement where the men died had fire detectors, but they could not tell if they were working at the time of the blaze.