Archive for December, 2013

Making sure the blaze is out

Kansas City Star – December 21, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 31, 2013

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Firefighters searched high and low for hotspots Friday after a fire in a second-floor apartment at London House Apartments, at 12901 Lord Nelson Drive in Lenexa. Authorities say no one was hurt.

Partiers alerted to fire by smoke alarm

By Adam Pulley
KSN – December 31, 2013


A fire broke out early Tuesday morning, destroying one home’s garage and the two cars inside.

It started around 1 a.m. in the 10,900 block of E. Fawn Grove, near Greenwich and Kellogg.

Fire officials say about 15 people were having a party in the basement when they were alerted by a fire alarm going off. They opened the garage door and found heavy flames and smoke.

The fire did get inside the house after the door was opened, but everyone inside made it outside safely.

The two cars inside the garage were full of gas, making it difficult for firefighters to put the fire out.

An estimated $115,000 was done to the house, another $70,000 to the cars inside.

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire.

Bomb threat causes evacuation at the Johnson Co. courthouse

KSHB – December 31, 2013

Authorities have given the “all clear” at the Johnson Co. courthouse after being evacuated due to a bomb threat.

The Johnson County Sheriff Watch Commander says someone called in the threat around 2 p.m. Monday.

Olathe Police, Olathe Fire Department, and deputies from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department searched the building, located at 125 N. Cherry St., in Olathe, Kan., and found nothing.

Employees were moved to an undisclosed location as a safety precaution.

The courthouse has been closed for the rest of the day.

Late Night Manhattan Fire Causes Major Damage

By Greg Palmer
WIBW – December 30, 2013

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Fire officials are investigating a blaze that caused tens of thousands of dollars damage to a Manhattan home Sunday night.

Deputy Chief Ryan Almes said the blaze did more than $20,000 in damages to contents and $60,000 in damage to a home-turned apartment building in the 800 block of Colorado last night.

Crews were called to the blaze just before 10:00 p.m. and had the fire contained in about 20 minutes.

Officials say that the home had three apartments, and that five tenants living in the building were all displaced due to the fire. No injuries were reported.

Sunnyslope Fire

By Dustin Michelson
Emporia Gazette – December 30, 2013

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Emporia firefighters respond to a house fire Monday afternoon at  1225 Sunnyslope St. Crews located the fire behind an upstairs refrigerator in the back of the house, said Fire Chief Jack Taylor at the scene. They extinguished the fire. He believes three people were in the house, and they all got out safely. No injuries were reported. The preliminary investigation shows that the cause of the fire was electrical in nature.

Fire damages Hutchinson bar

KAKE – December 30, 2013


A late-night fire damaged a bar on the west side of Hutchinson.

Firefighters were called to Jack of Clubs at 421 N. Whiteside around 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

No one was injured, and the extent of damage isn’t known. The bar has a reputation for a wall filled with historic pictures of professional wrestlers.

Investigators believe the fire started on the east side of the building, then spread to the south side. They say it may have started in the furnace because of the area where the fire originated.

Damage is reported to be substantial, but a dollar amount is not yet available.

The bar had been closed since Saturday.

Man killed in Harvey County crash identified

KAKE – December 30, 2013


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A 27-year-old Kansas man is dead after his SUV was hit by a semi on a stretch of highway in Harvey County early Saturday morning.

The crash happened around 2:15 a.m. on northbound I-135, about three miles south of Newton.

Trooper Ryan Tauer said dispatchers got a call about a Chevy Tahoe stopped in the right lane of traffic. By the time deputies got on scene, the semi had hit the rear of the SUV, causing both vehicles to go into the ditch.

Jeffery R Ely was ejected from his SUV before it “burst into flames,” Tauer said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is not yet known why Ely’s SUV was stopped in traffic.

Troopers at the scene said Ely lived in the Wichita area, but the official report from the highway patrol lists Lawrence as his city of residence, which is how it appeared on his driver’s license.

The 38-year-old driver of the semi was shaken up but not seriously hurt.

“The entire front end of the semi was destroyed,” Tauer said. “Debris from the Tahoe was thrown up into the windshield of the semi.”

Oswego Morning House Fire

By Felicia Lawrence
Four States Home Page – December 30, 2013

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A fire in Oswego causes severe structure damage to a home. The two-story home is located at 522 6th Street. Oswego fire officials arrived on the scene at 9:38 this morning. They were later joined by Altamont and Chetopa fire departments. Crews are still on site working to put out the flames.

Two women were at home at the time of the fire, but were able to escape, no one else was injured. At 1:33 this afternoon, officials informed us there was one dog still stuck inside the home. Firefighters are having difficulty treating the blaze because the roof is made of metal and the exterior of the home is composed of a fiberglass siding.
There is still no word on what has caused the fire.

Fire breaks out in Overland Park’s TownePlace Suites

By Tony Rizzo
Kansas City Star – December 30, 2013

One person was taken to a hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation after a fire broke out Monday inside an Overland Park hotel.

The fire at the TownePlace Suites, 7020 W. 133rd Street, was reported just before noon. The building was being evacuated when Overland Park and Leawood firefighters arrived. The fire was found in a third-floor room and quickly extinguished, according to the Overland Park Fire Department.A hotel employee who helped evacuate guests was taken to a hospital as a precaution for treatment of what was described as minor smoke inhalation.

The fire was believed to have started after something was placed too close to a heater, according to the fire department.

Man dies in north-central Kansas apartment fire

Associated Press – December 30, 2013

A fire at a north-central Kansas apartment building killed a man believed to be in his 70s.

Fire officials are trying to determine what caused the fire early Monday on Main Street in Herington.

Herington fire officials say the blaze started in a second-story apartment above a vacant business. The man was found dead in the apartment, where he lived by himself. His identity has not been released.

No other injuries were reported. Surrounding buildings were not damaged.

The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the fire.

Structure fire

News release from Salina Fire Department – December 30, 2013

News_Release_1601 E Beloit

Large field fire stopped just short of west Topeka homes

By Corey Jones
Topeka Capital Journal – December 30, 2013

Mission Township fire vehicles are parked in front of two homes in the 6900 block of S.W. 19th Lane that were in the path of flames Saturday afternoon from a burn pile that went out of control and burned three acres.

Mission Township fire vehicles are parked in front of two homes in the 6900 block of S.W. 19th Lane that were in the path of flames Saturday afternoon from a burn pile that went out of control and burned three acres.

A burn pile in the backyard of a residence just west of S.W. 21st and Urish Road got out of hand on a windy Saturday afternoon and scorched three acres of field, also nearing homes on the north edge of the flames’ reach.

Mission Township firefighters were called around 2:40 p.m. to the 6900 block of S.W. 19th Lane — a residential area west of S.W. Urish Road — on a report of an out-of-control fire threatening structures.

Assistant Fire Chief Jason Schone said crews had the flames under control in 10 to 15 minutes and out within a half hour.

No injuries were reported, and no homes were damaged.

Schone said a man was burning cardboard boxes without a permit behind his home in the 6900 block of S.W. 21st. He said southerly winds gusting at 25 mph fanned the flames and ignited the field.

The blaze threatened houses further north across the field near the intersection of S.W. 19th Lane and S.W. Valley View Court and also a bit more east and north along S.W. 18th Street.

Schone said the field fire moved to within about 40 feet of the dwelling at 6935 S.W. 19th Lane, which was as close as the flames would come to homes.

Schone said the man with the burn pile received a warning. He reminded people to always contact their local fire departments for permits before burning.

Little girl gets lots of support with blood drive held in her honor

By Katie Ferrell and Kasey Babbitt
FOX 4 News – December 30, 2013


People in Bonner Springs gathered to donate blood for a little girl who has been battling cancer.

When five-year-old Haley Bernard was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia last year, the hospital that was treating her didn’t have enough blood for her transfusion. So to ensure that did not happen again, friends, loved ones, and even strangers gathered to help her and others in the community by donating blood on Saturday.

For Haley the Bonner Springs Fire Department is like a second home.

“Haley’s father has been a firefighter for many years on this fire department and Haley has been raised here at the fire department basically,” said Bonner Springs Fire Chief, Dennis Hubbel.

Saturday morning the line for the blood drive was out the door. People from across the metro waited to donate blood in her honor.

“I definitely couldn’t imagine going through what they’re going through so, like I said, anything we can do to try and help them ease their burden that they have,” said Kevin Ussery, who donated blood.

A little more than a year ago Haley was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, called JMML, which stands for Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia. Haley underwent chemo and a bone marrow transplant, and in the spring she was healthy but just last month in November, she relapsed.

“The kicker of it is also is that this disease, this leukemia is not very well treated with the typical chemo treatments, three year plans, things like that, this is pretty harsh straight into bone marrow transplant,” said Haley’s dad, Dennis Bernard.

Another challenge was that there was not enough blood.

“They had trouble getting her platelets at Children’s Mercy hospital when hers were low and they had to wait to find them here in Kansas City,” said Bonner Springs Fire Chief, Dennis Hubbel. “Nobody needs to be waiting on lifesaving blood, plasma or platelets.”

Bernard said blood drives like this one ensure his daughter and others won’t have to wait for life saving treatments.

“This blood here is not only going to help Haley but it’s going to help everybody in this community,” said Bernard.

After giving blood many stayed for a breakfast which benefited the American Cancer Society.

Eight-year-old Kaydin Brown isn’t much older than Haley.

“I just wanted to help her and raise money for her because I felt bad about what happened so I wanted to raise money for her,” said Brown.

In two weeks Haley has another bone marrow transplant.

People who were not able to make Saturday’s blood drive are encouraged to donate at a blood bank near to them.

Tough calls take toll on firefighters

By Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune – December 30, 2013

Pratt Fire Lt. Dan Decker takes a break from the intense heat and smoke from the fire before heading back to the fight.

Pratt Fire Lt. Dan Decker takes a break from the intense heat and smoke from the fire before heading back to the fight.

They run to the fire.

Pratt firefighters have answered numerous fire calls in Pratt this year and each time they respond as quick as they can.

When the fire call came in on Dec. 23 that a house was on fire and children were inside, those firefighters responded a little faster.

“We have some very, very exceptional dedicated guys,” said Pratt Fire Chief David Kramer.

Unfortunately, the firefighters were not able to save the lives of twin baby boys but they did save the life of the mother.

This is not the way it is supposed to be. Firefighters are molded to get in and get the job done. But when that can’t happen, it’s a tough deal to face and the agony and pain shows on their faces, Kramer said.

“I have seen this a number of times and it can be very difficult,” Kramer said.

When firefighters respond they are doing so as more than firefighters. They get emotionally involved and consider the property as if it were their property and the family as if it were their family.

Because they take this personally, when a tragedy like this occurs it really takes a toll on the guys, Kramer said.

For some of the newest firefighters, this was their first big structure fire and for many it was the first time someone died in a fire.

Since this is such an emotional event for the firefighters, Kramer said some of the firefighters might be second-guessing themselves about what they could have done differently.

Unfortunately, even when they do their best, it’s just one of those things that they can’t control. A couple of firefighters suffered burns to the head, face, wrists and ears when they tried to get into the house. But the atmosphere was just not right for a rescue operation, Kramer said.

“We try to make the worst day of your life a little bit better. When we can’t do that, it affects first responders in a different way. Sometimes it’s very heart wrenching,” Kramer said.

Following the fire, as with every fire event, the crew returned to the station and went through a debriefing to evaluate everything that happened. Troy Bevins, Pratt County EMS paramedic also came to the debriefing and talked to the firefighters.

Kramer said they to talked to everybody multiple times over Christmas and made sure the families knew what signs to look for that would indicate a firefighter was having trouble dealing with the tragedy.

He made sure each firefighter knew that people were available to talk with them including a pastor that is on standby and a couple of others available if necessary. Mental health is also available if they need it, Kramer said.

If a firefighter requests help, the officers will work to come up with resources for the firefighter and for the firefighters family as well.

The department has close ties with the Wichita Fire Department and a number of their officers have also offered assistance.

The fact that it was Christmas time amplified the stress of the event because it’s a special time for families and the firefighters can see what the family that suffered the loss is going through.

Kramer said they continue to monitor the situation and spend as much time as they can with the firefighters and provide any emotional support they need.

“It’s easy to tell yourself you are OK but in reality if you can’t sleep and haven’t slept for two days there’s a lot of issues here,” Kramer said. “We need to be made aware of those issues. We will get them the support they need.”

Mobile home fire causes a $16,500 loss

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – December 28, 2013

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One person made it outside safely Friday morning just before a mobile home went up in flames on the city’s north side.

Crews were called around 1 a.m. to 1123 of N.W. Starlite Circle on a report of a mobile home fire.

When firefighters arrived, they found the mobile home fully involved in flames.

The lone occupant of the mobile home had already made it outside safely.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze in about a half hour.

No injuries were reported. The mobile home was declared a total loss.

The cause of the blaze wasn’t immediately available.

According to the Topeka Fire Department, the fire resulted in a  $16,500 loss — $15,000 to the mobile home and $1,500 to its contents.

The location of the fire was in a mobile home park just west of N.W. St. John and Taylor.

Accident victims remain in serious condition

By Jimmy Potts & Josh Vail
Chanute Tribune – December 28, 2013

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Two men remain in serious condition at Freeman Hospital in Joplin, Mo., following a two-car accident on K-59 Thursday afternoon.

Lloyd E. Hazen, 56, of Erie and Brandon Mistler, 17, of Wichita remain in serious condition after their vehicle collided with Neosho County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Tracey Henderson, 47, of Erie.

Mistler and Hazen were flown from the scene to Freeman Hospital in Joplin. According to a report from the Kansas Highway Patrol, the vehicle driven by Mistler collided with Henderson after attempting to cross K-59 while traveling westbound on K-146 (Shaw Road).

Patrolmen noted in the report that they do not believe Mistler and Hazen were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident.

Henderson walked away from the accident with no injuries, but his fellow deputies took him to Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center as a precaution.

During Friday’s Neosho County Commission meeting, Sheriff Jim Keath said the accident Thursday exacerbated his department’s need for new patrol vehicles.

“We discussed a couple of weeks ago about going out for bids for a vehicle,” Keath said. “I requested them to bid something that was in stock, on the lot and ready for immediate delivery. I’m kind of glad I did.”

Keath presented commissioners with three bids: $28,070 for a 2013 Ford F-150 from Merle Kelly Ford (the lowest bid); $29,929 for a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado from Ranz Motor Co.; and $31,651 for a 2014 RAM 1500 Big Horn from Shields Motor Co. Commissioners approved the lowest bid. Although the 2008 patrol vehicle was totaled in Thursday’s accident, the truck purchased Friday will replace a 2007 pickup that will go to the county road and bridge department.

“The vehicle that this was going to replace, a 2007 (truck) with 169,000 miles on it, will go to the [road and bridge department],” Keath said. “The one we had in the accident had 107,000 miles. I still have one 2007 (truck) that is pushing 155,000 miles. We are going to have to do something about the 2008 (truck) that was in the accident. If we could figure something out with that other 2007 (truck) and move it on, then next year we would be to the point that we could move the 2008s into the [road and bridge department].”

Keath said purchasing patrol trucks instead of patrol cars makes more sense because patrol trucks have a longer lifespan, seven years as opposed to an expected four years with Ford Crown Victorias, and they have more versatility because his department can move the trucks to another department once they begin having mechanical issues due to their high mileage.

Home destroyed by fire

Anderson County Advocate – December 10, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 27, 2013

A home was destroyed by a fire Friday night outside of Garnett.

At 7:22 p.m. a call came in to the fire department for a home fire at 27451 NE 1750 Road.

The home, owned by Barb Wadkins, was totally destroyed in the fire.

Departments from Anderson County, Colony, Greeley, Welda, and Garnett answered the alarm.

The fire remains under investigation, but it appears to have started in the fireplace.

Fire damages restaurant

Butler Times Gazette – December 10, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 27, 2013

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A fire in a soffit roof overhang at the Cancun Mexican Grill at 2521 W. Central Ave appeared to have started around a light fixture Monday evening.

The soffit area, where heavy smoke and flames were protruding, was open to the entire attic space of the roof. The fire charred the rafters and underside of the roof upwards almost to the gable peak.

Firefighters made a quick attack to suppress the fire. The front facing over the burning soffit area was removed as was the gable facing alongside the top of the roof.

The extremely cold weather produced icy conditions for the firefighters.

El Dorado volunteer crews as well as crews from Towanda assisted in controlling the fire. The quick and professional work of the firefighters averted what could have been a tremendous loss.


Program for fire safety kicks off headed by Coffeyville firefighters

By Allen Smith
Independence Daily Reporter – December 8, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 27, 2013

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The members of the Coffeyville Fire Department are taking steps to make Coffeyville safer.

The new program, primarily kicked off Tuesday with the first inspection at the home of Karen Goss, known as Karen G, the radio personality at KUSN Radio in Coffeyville.

“This is our first inspection,” said Josh Mecom, one of two Coffeyville firemen on the CFD’s “A” shift.

The Fire Loss Awareness for Safer Homes project is not new, but the Coffeyville department decided to make the program more of a proactive event, rather than reactive.

“Other fire departments in larger communities use this FLASH program,” said Lt. Mike O’Connor. “We decided to be a little more proactive…get out and inspect homes in the community before there is a fire.”

“Many cities do this after the fact, go door to door in a neighborhood after there’s been a fire. We are going to try and do this before the fact, in hopes of preventing a fire,” said Capt. Bob Roesky.

Some of the items covered with a homeowner or the occupant of a home are smoking habits, electrical hazards, housekeeping, heating and cooking habits, smoke alarms, fire escape plans, fire extinguishers and conditions outside a home.

“Each category has a checklist of items we go over with homeowners,” O’Connor said.

“This FLASH survey is a result of the recent community survey completed by the city,” said Coffeyville Fire Chief James Grimmett. “The survey showed we are doing a good job as a department, but we know there is always room for improvement.”

“The inspection is completed by on-duty firefighters entering homes and educating the occupant of potential hazards,” Grimmett said. “When these hazards are detected, we would then recommend safer alternatives,” he added.

In the heating and cooling section of the survey one of the questions deals with changing the filters for forced air heaters and cleaning vents annually.

Following Tuesday’s inspection at Goss’s house, Goss left with a used filter in her hand she planned to replace.

“It’s things like that we look for,” Mecom said.

“We look for extension cords…are they used properly or are they placed under rugs or over hooks and nails?” Grimmett said. “Extension cords are helpful, but they need to be used properly.”

If a person smokes, the questionnaire asks are matches and lighters kept out of the reach of children?; is no smoking in bed a rule of the house?

“Those are big problems,” Grimmett said.

Firefighters look for smoke alarms outside every sleeping area, in every bedroom on each floor, are smoke alarms tested and are batteries replaced annually, does a family have a fire escape plan prepared and practiced regularly, whether or not families have a meeting place so everyone can be accounted for, whether or not house numbers are placed on a home where they can be seen.

Does a family, and babysitter, know the first rule in fire emergencies: GET EVERYONE OUT FAST AND DON’T GO BACK INSIDE?

“That’s a big one also,” Grimmett said.

O’Conner said the inspection process is completely volunteer.

“We’re not forcing anyone to do this…but it’s a good idea,” Mecom said.

He also stressed the fact completing this survey cannot stop a fire from occurring.

“People need to know these inspections don’t stop fires from happening…but if we’ve done an inspection and there happens to be a fire down the road then we have a little bit of a head start because we know the layout of a home if we’ve been here…and that’s a big plus,” O’Connor said.

Eventually, said Roesky, two firefighters on each shift will be doing these inspections.

“We have four or five inspections set up  between now and the end of the year…after the first of the year we’ll start advertising the program on our facebook page, for example, and hopefully get some more people interested in getting their homes inspected,” Mecom said.

“We’re just trying to make Coffeyville a safer place for us all,” Mecom said.

Light smoke brings firemen to Subway

Harper Advocate – December 11, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 27, 2013

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Smoke coming out of heat vents was the reason that Harper fire trucks lined the drive of the Subway Sandwich Shop at 6:40 p.m. Saturday night.

The two young ladies working that night shut down the heater and other appliances before exiting the store. The light smoke dissipated when fire units arrived and found that it was a furnace (located on the outside of the building) that had malfunctioned and burned a drive belt putting smoke into the duct system.

There was no damage other than to the belt and the store was in business as usual Sunday.

Fire displaces local couple

By Brian Sanders
Holton Recorder – December 9, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 27, 2013

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A Thursday afternoon fire left the home of a Holton couple “pretty well gutted,” according to Holton Fire Chief Kevin Ingels.

Holton firefighters were called to the home of Jeremy and Julie Porter at 708 New York Ave. at about 12:35 p.m. that day, Ingels said. Upon arrival, firefighters found smoke coming from the house’s basement, second story window and attic vents, and it had been estimated that the fire, which was believed to have started near a basement furnace, had been burning for some time before anyone discovered it.

“We tried to go in through the front door, but the living room floor was already burned through,” Ingels said.

Firefighters entered the rear of the house, located the basement fire and “got it knocked down,” he said. However, the fire had worked its way up to the second story and attic area, and firefighters had to vent the roof of the house to get to the source of the smoke coming from the attic.

Crews eventually were able to locate “hot spots” with a thermal imaging camera and “mop up” the fire, clearing the scene shortly before 4 p.m., Ingels said. No one was home at the time the fire was reported, he added, and no firefighters were injured while fighting the fire.

Due to the amount of damage to the home–estimated at about $90,000, according to a Holton Fire Department report–the home was declared unlivable, Ingels said.

Crews quickly douse small brush fires behind central Topeka house

By Corey Jones
Topeka Capital Journal – December 26, 2013

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Topeka firefighters made quick work of two or three small brush fires intentionally set Thursday afternoon behind what appeared to be a vacant home at 1225 S.W. Buchanan.

Crews were called to the area at 3:07 p.m. on a report of a possible structure fire behind a house.

A firefighter at the scene said two or three small piles of brush were intentionally ignited, and no one was present when crews arrived. No structures were threatened.

A firefighter’s knocks at the door of 1225 S.W. Buchanan went unanswered.

Officials investigating 2 arson fires

Salina Journal – December 26, 2013

Salina police and fire officials are investigating aggravated arsons that occurred on the stairways of two Salina apartment buildings, one Monday and one on Christmas Day.

Occupants of an apartment in a building at 308 S. Fourth noticed a strange odor at 9:05 p.m. Monday. They exited the apartment and discovered that the stairs to an unoccupied upper-floor apartment were on fire, said Salina Fire Department investigator Troy Long.

Long said Ashes, the fire department’s trained dog, indicated that an accelerant had been used, and a sample was collected for analysis in the Kansas Bureau of Investigation laboratory.

Long said that no one was injured, but people living in the building had to be evacuated because gas and water service to the building were shut off.  He said the fire caused little structural damage, but he estimated the cost of overall damage at about $3,000.

At 8:36 p.m. Wednesday, occupants of an apartment in a building at 209 E. Mulberry smelled smoke and discovered two cardboard boxes on fire in the stair landing, Long said.

A person in the apartment grabbed a fire extinguisher and put the blaze out before firefighters arrived, he said. He said the fire damaged the carpet on the stairway landing.

Long said the boxes had been left in a lower floor hallway by a downstairs tenant and had been moved upstairs before they were lit on fire. He said Ashes indicated the presence of an accelerant, and a sample is being tested at the KBI lab.

Long said residents were able to return to their apartments after exhaust fans were used to clear smoke. He estimated damage at $300.

Both buildings are owned by Mark Booher, Long said.

6-year-old boy credited for alerting family of house fire

KSHB – December 26, 2013


A six-year-old boy is credited for saving his family from a house fire early Thursday morning.

It happened just before 4 a.m. Thursday near South 42  ndand Douglas St. in Kansas City, Kan.

Fire Department PIO Deputy Chief Craig Duke told 41 Action News the family was alerted after the 6-year-old, who was asleep on the couch, smelled smoke.

Duke said the family has a smoke detection system through ADT; however, they were not alerted by the system.

The family was able to evacuate and run to a neighbor’s house to call 911.

Several pumpers were called to the scene as the fire quickly spread.

The house is a total loss. They also lost a dog in the fire.

Four of the family’s other children were not home of the time of the fire. Red Cross has been called to assist the family.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Woman hurt in Northwest Wichita house fire

KAKE – December 26, 2013


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A woman suffered serious injuries in a house fire in northwest Wichita.  Fire crews were called to the scene in the 1500 block of north Westgate before 9:00 a.m.  The location is west of 13th and Maize Road.

Investigators said the fire started in a bedroom.  The woman was at home alone.

Damage is estimated at $15,000 to the house and $5,000 to its contents.

Cops for Tots brings cheer to doorsteps

By Colleen Truelsen
Osawatomie Graphic – December 26, 2013

Santa’s helpers, in the form of Osawatomie’s volunteer firefighters and friends, brought Christmas cheer to the doorstep of 85 families Saturday when fire trucks rolled through town for the annual Cops for Tots deliveries.

At the same time, elves from Moon’s Hometown Market delivered a complete holiday meal to 82 local families.

Though icy streets were in the forecast, Fire Chief DuWayne Tewes said crews were undaunted.

“Rain or shine,” he said, “we’ll figure it out either way.”

The weather cooperated — at least until early evening — and all was delivered with nary a slip.

Generosity made it possible for this year’s Miami County Sheriff’s Office-sponsored program to forgo the annual auction to raise funds to make Christmas dreams come true.

“We felt we had adequate enough funds at this time that we didn’t want to do one this year,” said Sheriff Frank Kelly. “We want to pass out some more money to the organizations that are needed in Miami County over the next few months, and then we’ll have an auction next year.”

Cops for Tots funds a bag of groceries for those in need, and Mike Moon, Moon’s Hometown Market owner, said the sheriff’s department develops the holiday meal food list and his store employees work hard to keep the prices low for the feast.

Families received ham, cans of vegetables, stuffing, potatoes, dinner rolls, margarine and a pie.

Moon said store volunteers head out to do the deliveries each year, while others work on organizing the bags.

“We get a lot of satisfaction out of it,” he said. “Sometimes the recipient is emotional. For some of the families, they would not have a holiday meal without this.”

Kelly said accepting charity is not always easy for those on the receiving end.

“Sometimes it’s tough for families to take something from someone when they’re going through tough times,” he said. “We have our pride — all of us do. But when there’s communities that want to support their own community throughout the year, that’s what this is all about. It humbles us.”

Kelly said families who have been helped in the past and find themselves in better times come out to volunteer.

“It’s teaching each of us about giving and receiving,” he said. “We never know where we’re going to be at in life, and when people are down, they need help.”

Some refuse to ask for the help they need, Kelly said.

“Once we find out a family needs some help, we put together the volunteers or those that want to go out and help that family, and it’s done, taken care of, and that’s one last thing they have to worry about. It just helps out.

“It’s huge. It’s really huge,” he added. “Sometimes you just can’t put words to it.”

– Charity Keitel

contributed to this report.

Statehouse sees Christmas Eve sprinkler system leak

Topeka Capital Journal – December 26, 2013

‘Twas the night before Christmas and under the dome, the need for sprinkler repair was driven home.

Topeka firefighters Tuesday evening found themselves helping deal with a Christmas Eve sprinkler system leak at the Kansas Statehouse, said Fire Department Battalion Chief Ron Hufford.

Firefighters were called at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to the Statehouse, where sprinkler system damage resulted in pipes leaking heavily in the area of the ground-floor entryway on the building’s north side, Hufford said.

Firefighters helped remove water from the area, he said.

Water main, sprinkler system bursts, forcing evacuation at W. Wichita hotel

KAKE – December 26, 2013

Wichita firefighters were called the report of a roof collapse at a West Wichita extended stay hotel.

It happened at the Value Place Hotel, located near Kellogg and Ridge Road.   Crews arrived on scene shortly after 3 p.m. to find water filling up the top floor of the four story hotel.

Crews and hotel personnel evacuated the building while firefighters worked to shut off water to the building.  Fire officials tell KAKE News that the water main and sprinkler system on the top floor froze and then burst, flooding the building.

Hotel officials are working to relocate guests to other locations in Wichita.  The building was at full capacity at the time of the break.

Christmas Eve blaze burns shed behind house in west Topeka

Topeka Capital Journal – December 26, 2013

A Christmas Eve blaze damaged a shed behind a house Tuesday evening at 709 S.W. Watson Ave. but did not reach the house, officials said. No one was hurt.

A Shawnee County Emergency Communications Center dispatcher said firefighters were called at 7:01 p.m. Tuesday to the scene on Watson, which is seven blocks east of S.W. Gage Boulevard.

Topeka Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Cervantez said firefighters arrived to find smoke and flames coming from an outbuilding behind the house. Firefighters made a “quick stop” of the blaze, Cervantez said.

No damage estimate was available Tuesday evening, and the fire’s cause hadn’t yet been determined.

KCK firefighter hurt while battling fire

By Nick Sloan
Kansas City Kansan – December 26, 2013

A Kansas City, Kan., firefighter suffered burns to his wrist and ears while battling a fire early Tuesday morning.

Firefighters reported to 329 Troup just after 3:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve.

When arriving, they discovered a fire at the rear of a two-story home. The home was vacant at the time of the fire, which remains under investigation by the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department.

“Primary search confirmed structure was vacant,” said Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department PIO Deputy Chief Craig Duke. “The fire was under control within 20 minutes.”

About $40,000 worth of damage was reported to the home.

The injured firefighter is expected to recover.

Garcia retires after 30+ years

By Ashley Bergner
Newton Kansan – December 26, 2013

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Ask Vince Garcia what he’s enjoyed most during his 31 years with the Newton Fire/EMS Department, and his answer comes quickly: his fellow emergency responders, who are more than just coworkers. They are family.

“There’s no secrets,” said Garcia, who is a firefighter/EMT based at Station No. 1. “You can pretty much tell them anything.”

Garcia’s last day on duty was Monday, and Newton Fire/EMS honored him with a special reception that drew a crowd of family members, coworkers and friends from the community.

“Vince is our most senior member and his legacy of service will carry on — but he will be greatly missed,” said Mark Willis, chief of the Newton Fire/EMS Department. “He’s a real leader for the department.”

Garcia was born in California, but his parents originally were from Newton, and they eventually moved the family back to Newton. Garcia spent some time working for the railroad, until one of his best friends encouraged him to apply to the Newton fire department.

He’s faced challenges during his career, including heartbreaking calls such as car accidents and a house fire at Christmastime that claimed the lives of three children — a memory that still causes Garcia’s voice to fill with emotion. Those tragedies are difficult to respond to, but what kept Garcia going was a desire to help people in their greatest moments of need.

Garcia will continue to face challenges now that he is retired. A diagnosis of ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, caused him to retire earlier than he planned, but he maintains a positive spirit. He plans to spent time with family and stay occupied with woodworking projects.

“I don’t want to just sit,” he said.


Fire station builds, installs benches for neighboring senior center

By Samantha Foster
Topeka Capital Journal – December 26, 2013

From left, firefighters Larry Peters, Brian Hillerbert and Paul Waggoner, from Fire Station No. 6 in Oakland, built and installed two benches outside the LULAC Senior Center recently.

From left, firefighters Larry Peters, Brian Hillerbert and Paul Waggoner, from Fire Station No. 6 in Oakland, built and installed two benches outside the LULAC Senior Center recently.

When three firefighters from the station across the street arrived at the LULAC Senior Center in Oakland with two new benches they had built for the center, activities coordinator Mary Kelley was wildly excited.

“I jumped up and down, screamed and clapped my hands,” Kelley said Monday. “I was ecstatic.”

Still, she said, she feels she “guilted them into it.”

The senior center didn’t previously have any benches, Kelley said, and in warmer weather a half-dozen seniors would be standing outside leaning on the railing, or folding chairs would be brought outside.

Kelley said she noticed that the bench outside Fire Station No. 6, which is across the street from the senior center, was never used, so she walked across the street to ask whether the center could have it. But her request was denied because the bench was city property.

So Kelley put a request for two 5-foot benches on the center’s marquee in front of the building — in full view of the fire station.

Jessica Sarinana-Kelley, director of the senior center, said firefighters initially had walked over to say they were going to donate money so the center could purchase benches.

“Then they decided to just build us some,” she said.

About three weeks ago, three firefighters — Paul Waggoner, Larry Peters and Brian Hillerbert — brought the benches to the center and installed them on behalf of the entire fire station, Sarinana-Kelley said.

Since the firefighters bolted down the benches, she said, they can’t tip over.

Those at the senior center are excited and grateful for the donation.

“They’re beautiful, they’re awesome,” Kelley said of the benches.

Update on Milford Lake Drowning

Junction City Daily Union – December 24, 2013

Geary County Sheriff Tony Wolf has released more information on a drowning that occurred at Milford Lake Tuesday morning.

Wolf reported two men were on the shore and shot a duck. “The victim got into a makeshift boat that had no motor. He started out to the ice sheet where the duck was, and was caught by the wind and pushed further out. The small boat started taking on water.” Wolf also said, “The victim made it to the ice sheet where he was stranded. he was able to stay on the ice for a short time, however he fell through the ice shortly after that.”

The identity of the drowning victim has not yet been released pending notification of next of kin, but Wolf did confirm he was a member of the military.

Wolf said the search for the victim’s body has been called off today due to the weather. “The conditions out there are horrible. The boat ramps are covered with ice. We can’t get a boat into the area.  It’s very difficult. ” Wolf said the area has been secured. “Wildlife and parks are going to come in, in the next day or so with boats equipped with side scan sonar, and work on the recovery effort at that point.”

Authorities received the emergency call at 7:42 a.m. on the incident, in which they were informed a duck hunter, ” was stranded on the ice at Milford Lake. ”

The Sheriff thanked various agencies for their response and efforts including Junction City Fire and EMS, Geary County Emergency Services, Kansas State Park’s Department, Kansas State Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Life Star, and the Riley County Dive team.

Fire causes minimal damage

Salina Journal – December 24, 2013

An early evening house fire near downtown Salina caused minimal damage.

Firefighters were called to a report of a house fire at 308 S. Fourth shortly after 8 p.m. and evacuated several residents from the house, which had been divided into apartments, battalion chief Calvin Kelsey said.

A small fire near the staircase of the two-story house was quickly extinguished, and Kelsey said damage was minimal enough that residents would be allowed back inside Monday night.

Home a loss in Sunday fire

By Sarah Gooding
Pittsburg Morning Sun – December 24, 2013

Photo by Skip McConnell.

Photo by Skip McConnell.

Pittsburg firefighters responded Sunday morning to a fire at 601 Oakcrest Dr. in southwest Pittsburg, but the home was declared a complete loss despite efforts to battle the blaze.

Battalion chief Jim Radell said when the fire was first reported at 6:44 a.m. firefighters were told that flames were showing through the roof, and those responding then had to navigate a less-than-direct path with downed power lines and icy branches from the winter storm that swept through the area Friday and Saturday.

“It was a delayed response because of weather and power lines being down,” Radell said, adding that when they arrived “the house was fully engulfed.”

Firefighters indicated their hearts went out to the family in the loss of a home, but said the greatest success is that no lives were lost – neither residents nor firefighters.

“Everything else, it’s bad,” said captain Bryan Main. “But, the big thing is nobody died.”

Main said one other home was exposed to the fire and had some damage to the siding as a result of the incident.

Radell said it was a busy weekend for the department with 22 calls for tree fires and other weather-related concerns, followed by the structure fire first thing on Sunday.

However, firefighters reported that no injury accidents took place during the weekend.

“The roads weren’t actually that bad,” Radell said.

However, other surfaces were still slick.

“We had EMS calls due to falling,” Radell said.

Thorughout the next few days, firefighters anticipate some ongoing situations related to the winter weather.

“The issue of the low-lying trees is still there,” Radell said, adding that he would not be surprised to see some localized power outages as trees thaw and branches begin to bounce back to their normal elevations.

Firefighters also advised continuing to use extreme caution regarding anything related to power lines.

“We did have one incident where a person was trying to spray water on the tree limb that was caught on fire by the power line,” Main said. “That is definitely a safety concern.”

He said throughout Saturday and into the coming week those reporting trees on fire are being asked to simply call the fire department and report the situation.

“We go out and investigate and see if any structures are on fire in the area,” Main said.

However, with so much ice he said embers tended to be extinguished immediately upon hitting the ground.

In another situation, Main said an individual asked the department to advise whether he could cut a limb off of a power line with the knowledge that power was out at his house.

“We cannot recommend people touch anything connected to a power line, even if the power is out,” Main said. “The best thing to do any time power lines are involved is to get in touch with Westar and let them take control of the situation.”

Gerald Edward Offutt


Fire damages Cargill packing plant

KAKE – December 24, 2013

Fire erupted inside the Cargill meatpacking plant near Dodge City Monday night, and kept firefighters busy for more than five hours.

Capt. Mark Elder with the Dodge City Fire Department told KAKE News the fire began around 9:00 p.m. in the kill floor area.  Because the complex is so large, crews spent several hours trying to put out all the hot spots.

Elder says no one was injured in the fire.  The plant was evacuated, and one person tweeted to KAKE News the second shift was sent home early.

The Cargill plant is located about two miles outside the Dodge City limits, so Ford County fire crews are leading the work on the fire.  A spokesman for Ford County Fire/EMS told KAKE News the fire may started from a heater.

Cargill has yet to release a statement about how the fire will affect production.  The company’s website says the Dodge City plant employs more than 2,700 people, making it the city’s second-largest employer.  It is the largest Cargill beef plant.

Cargill announced plans in late August to spend $48 million on a new automated system at the Dodge City plant.  The goal was to increase capacity sixfold, from the current 25,000 boxes of beef.

Fire crews fight fire at house on Branner Trafficway

By Tim Hrenchir
Topeka Capital Journal – December 24, 2013

A fire Monday evening appeared to have significantly damaged a small house in East Topeka. No one was hurt.

Firefighters were dispatched at 6:11 p.m. to 709 S.E. Branner, where Battalion Chief Martin Gray said it appeared no one was home when the blaze begin. Firefighters searched the burning building and concluded no one was inside.

Smoke still billowed from the house at 6:30 p.m., and an occasional tongue of flame could be seen from outside.

A damage estimate hadn’t yet been made, and the cause of the blaze remained under investigation.

Twin boys die in Pratt house fire

KAKE – December 23, 2013

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Two twin boys have died following a house fire in Pratt.

The fire broke out Monday afternoon in the 600 block of High.  A family member told KAKE’s Lily Wu at the scene that the child’s mother escaped the fire, but she could not save her two twin boys who were not quite one years old.

The relative says the children were not rescued.  However, fire officials have not confirmed any information to the media.

The children’s mother is being transported to a Wichita hospital for treatment.  No names have been released.

Frozen hydrants present difficulties for fire crews at two scenes

By Samantha Foster
Topeka Capital Journal – December 23, 2013

Fire crews’ efforts to fight blazes at two separate fires Monday were hampered by below-freezing temperatures and ice left over from the past weekend’s winter storm.

Outside 3021 S.W. Tutbury Town Road, where a garage fire was extinguished about 12:45 p.m., Mission Township Fire Chief Forrest Walter said his fire crew was unable to connect to a frozen hydrant on the street.

Luckily, Walter said, the water his crew’s trucks carried with them was enough.

A neighbor said five people were in the home at the time of the fire.

They are “great people,” she said. “Thank God everyone made it out safe.”

Walter wasn’t immediately able to confirm how many people were in the home when the fire broke out. However, he said, everyone was reported to have evacuated the residence before residents placed a call to 911.

Mission Township crews, assisted by Topeka Fire Station No. 12, were able to extinguish the blaze within about 10 minutes of arriving on scene, Walter said. But smoke, as well as substantial amounts of steam from the water expanding in the cold air, filled the air above the residence for some time afterward.

Walter said the cause wasn’t yet known, and there wasn’t a damage estimate. He said an investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office was en route.

The home is southeast of the intersection of S.W. 29th and Urish.

It was the second fire Monday in which frozen hydrants presented problems. Topeka Fire Investigator Rusty Vollintine said crews responding to a fire in a detached garage structure in East Topeka also were faced with a hydrant that was frozen over and unable to be used.

At that fire, which was reported about 1:30 a.m. at 1904 S.E. Lott, heavy smoke and flames were visible coming from the garage building. As they investigated further, firefighters saw the structure’s roof beginning to collapse.

“Initial attempts to obtain a water supply were unsuccessful due to the hydrant being frozen,” Vollintine said in a news release.

Fire crews were able bring the fire under control with the water carried on their vehicles before they were able to hook up their hoses to another hydrant.

Vollintine said that fire’s cause remained undetermined, but foul play wasn’t suspected. He said it likely began in the garage’s overhead attic spaces.

He estimated its damage at $7,500 to the structure and $2,500 in content loss.

Man ordered to pay nearly $10K for fire

Clay Center Dispatch – December 23, 2013

A man was ordered to pay almost $10,000 in reimbursement to the Longford Rural Fire Department for a fire that got out of control and failure to notify the Sheriff’s Department of a controlled burn.

On Dec. 18 District Magistrate Judge Bill Malcolm sentenced Steven Mildfelt, 60, Clay Center, on a conviction for failure to notify prior to a controlled Burn, to  90 days in jail deferred and placed him on a year of supervised probation. He ordered Mildfelt to pay  $9,989.10 in reimbursement for costs ordered to Longford Rural Fire Department.  Restitution for landowners to be determined in later order.

Promoting public safety

Newton Kansan – December 23, 2013

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On behalf of Midland National Bank, Merresa Akers presented Chief Mark Willis from the Newton Fire/EMS department with a check for $405 from a recent new account promotion. Chief Willis plans to utilize the donation to purchase items for fire safety/prevention education.

Firefighters put out small fire at south Topeka car dealership

By Eric Smith
Topeka Capital Journal – December 23, 2013

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Firefighters dealt with a small fire and its remnants that was caused by a malfunction to an oil-burning furnace for more than an hour Sunday evening at a south Topeka car dealership, a fire official said.

Capt. Daniel Macke said first responders received a report of a fire coming out of a chimney around 7:45 p.m. at Doug Richert Cadillac, 1900 S.W. Topeka Blvd. A man clearing an adjacent lot of snow saw the flames.

Firefighters arrived to flames coming from the roof in the back of the building and were able to put out the larger fire from the furnace quickly, Macke said. However, a smaller fire continued to burn in a barrel inside the furnace, sending dark smoke out through a pipe in the roof for more than an hour.

“They couldn’t use water because it could spray out and catch other things,” Macke said, adding dry chemical and carbon monoxide was used to put out the smaller fire.

No structural damage was done, the fire official said, but there was damage to the furnace, as well as some smoke damage to the inside of the building.

“We don’t even know what caused the malfunction,” Macke said. “We’re just really lucky.”

The furnace, which is used to heat the building, is fueled by used auto oil.

Wichita cop-firefighter boxing tourney moving to bigger venue

By Tim Potter
Wichita Eagle – December 23, 2013

The Wichita Crime Commission has announced that its annual boxing tournament between firefighters and law enforcement officers will be held at a larger venue next year.

The past two years, the Guns ‘n Hoses Wichita tournament has sold out at the Beech Activity Center, Wichita Crime Commission executive director Gordon Bassham said in a statement Friday. This coming year, the charity fundraising event will be held May 2 at Hartman Arena.Next year’s event will be the third year the tournament has been held. The first year, it drew 950 people, and when it attracted 1,250 people this year, some people had to be turned away because of space limitations at the Activity Center, Bassham said Saturday.

The tournament raises money for charities picked by law enforcement officers and firefighters, and it also goes for area youth boxing programs.

Sixty percent of the event proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit groups and boxing programs, Bassham said. The rest of the money goes for expenses.

“For more than six decades, the Crime Commission has worked hard to help prevent crime in our community,” Bassham said in the news release. “Growing youth boxing programs in the area is in line with our mission of preventing crime through the development of youth programs such as LAW Camp, Youth Court and Make Good Choices.”

Tournament tickets can be bought at the Hartman Arena box office, or online at  beginning next month. Prices are $27.50 for general admission and $52.50 for reserved floor seats. Floor tables with seating can also be purchased through the Crime Commission offices by calling 316-267-1235.

Fire destroys home, 2 pets lost, cause unknown

By Scott Aust
Garden City Telegram – December 23, 2013

Michael Blalock officially graduated from Garden City High School on Friday.

That night he watched as a fire burned the rental home he lived in for the last eight years with his mother, Kristie Goff, and his brother, Chance Blalock.

Thankfully — perhaps miraculously, given the season — the family was in the process of moving to a new home when the fire struck, so most of their irreplaceable items — keepsakes, photos, documents — already had been moved.

“We were very fortunate to get a lot of stuff out,” Blalock said Saturday morning.

Blalock and some friends had returned to the home, located at 1110 N. Ninth St., around 6:30 p.m. Friday to gather another load of things to take to the family’s new home when a buddy noticed a cloud of smoke coming out of the house.

“I ran up to the door and opened it and this giant ball of smoke hits me,” Blalock said.

His next thoughts were concern for the family’s pets who were still inside. Blalock and his friends were able to let one dog out the back door, but another dog and a cat couldn’t be saved.

“I could hear their tags jingling but I couldn’t see them because of the smoke. By that time I had called 911,” he said.

The Garden City Fire Department received the call at 6:36 p.m. and were on scene until 8:04 p.m. Two engines, a battalion chief and 11 firefighters responded to the blaze. The structure was fully involved when firefighters arrived.

Rick Collins, battalion chief, said the cause of the fire was unknown and under investigation.

No people were hurt in the fire. Blalock said his mom and brother were at the new house putting things away. The family lost some chairs, beds, a filing cabinet and a few clothes.

The family had lived in the home eight years to the day on Friday. They had planned to be completely moved out on Saturday. They rented the home from Dorothy Schmale, who died Aug. 28, and the property is owned by her estate.

Understandably shaken, Kristie Goff said it was rough to lose a couple of loved pets and the home they had lived in for so long.

“It kind of seems surreal. I would never have thought it would happen to us in a million years,” she said. “When I pulled up and saw flames coming out the door and over the roof of the house it was surreal. I could account for my kids, but I didn’t know where my pets were. It was terrifying.”

Goff said no one was seriously hurt, though Michael suffered some cuts and bruises trying to break out a window to save the pets.

“That’s the extent of it. We’re really blessed for that, because his first instinct was to run inside,” she said.

The family went through a roller-coaster of highs and lows on Friday, with Michael’s graduation news followed by the fire. Goff said Michael was excited about graduating.

“He called me and said, ‘Guess what, Mom? You’re talking to a graduated student.’ I’m so proud of him,” Goff said.

Goff, who works for Knight Time Medical, said she appreciated the help and support of friends and co-workers after the loss.

“My boss has been wonderful,” Goff said. “I mean the friends of the kids were there last night and were just wonderful, being supportive. It takes your friends to get you through something like this.”

Fire crews fight blaze in detached garage structure

Topeka Capital Journal – December 23, 2013

Wintry conditions hindered firefighters initially when they responded early Monday to a fire in a detached garage structure in East Topeka, officials said.

Fire Investigator Rusty Vollintine said crews responded about 1:30 a.m. to the fire at 1904 S.E. Lott. When they arrived, they reported heavy smoke and fire coming from the garage structure.

As they investigated further, firefighters saw the structure’s roof was beginning to collapse.

Firefighters’ initial attempts to obtain a water supply to fight the blaze weren’t successful because the hydrant was frozen, Vollintine said. Crews were able to bring the fire under control with available water carried on their vehicles before obtaining another water supply from a different hydrant.

Crews were able to make a partial entry into the garage to extinguish the fire, Vollintine said.

While Vollintine said the fire’s cause remained undetermined, he said foul play wasn’t suspected. He said it likely began within the garage’s overhead attic spaces.

He estimated the damage at $7,500 to the structure and $2,500 in content loss.

Woman seriously hurt in Shawnee house fire

KMBC – December 23, 2013

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A woman was seriously hurt in a house fire in Shawnee on Saturday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to the 11200 block of West 70th Street about 12:45 p.m. and found fire in the living room of the home.

Authorities said the woman was found in the kitchen area. She was transported to KU Med Burn Center with critical injuries.

“Our thoughts are with the resident and her family right now,” said Shawnee Fire Marshal Corey Sands in a news release. “We will continue to investigate to find out how this fire started and why the resident was not able to get out.”

Officials said they located a smoke alarm in the home, but the battery was not connected. They estimate the damage to the house as around $80,000.

The fire was reported to be under control just after 1 p.m.

The cause is under investigation.

Fire damages Lenexa home on Saturday

By Dan Petrilli
KMBC – December 23, 2013

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A fire damaged a Lenexa home on Saturday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to the 9200 block of Park Street about 2:15 p.m. The house is located off Interstate 35 and 95th Street.

No one was home at the time. No injuries were reported in battling the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Grass fires down in last five years

Manhattan Mercury – December 17, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 23, 2013

The number of grass fires in Pottawatomie County has decreased dramatically in the five years since the county instituted a permitting system for burning pastures.

Before the county implemented the system in 2009, there were an average of 398 grass fires per year, fire supervisor Bruce Brazzle told Pott County Commissioners Monday.

In the five years since, the average number of grass fires has dropped to 231 annually.

The reduction in grass fires has also resulted in a cost savings to rural fire departments under the county’s umbrella, Brazzle said.

Using national cost figures for fuel and wear and tear on equipment, Brazzle estimated rural fire departments have saved anywhere from $81,500 to $163,000 since the burn permit system was implemented in 2009.

“That’s a good savings and it’s a good program,” Brazzle said. “We’ll keep it up.”

In the first year, 940 burn permits were issued to Pottawatomie County landowners. Today there are 1,156 permits issued, Brazzle said.

Brazzle also updated commissioners on new EMS buildings at Onaga and Westmoreland and reviewed longterm needs of rural departments.

The Olsburg and Havensville departments are in need of new tanker trucks and the Wheaton and Olsburg departments need new fire stations, Brazzle said.

Although the communities have had discussions on new stations, no time line has been established, he said.

Family loses home in rekindled fire

By Clinton Dick
Ottawa Herald – December 14, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – December 23, 2013

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Jeff Hodgson and his family looked for things to salvage from what remains of their home, but the search didn’t last very long, he said.

“We go over to the house to go through stuff and think we are going to salvage something, and it just makes us sick and we leave,” Hodgson, Ottawa, said.

Hodgson, and his wife, Wendy, two daughters, Brandi and Bridgette, his 6-month-old grandson, Drew, and Brandi’s boyfriend, Mike Neighbors, lost most of their possessions and the home they were renting at 421 S. Maple St., Ottawa, Wednesday in a house fire. All six were living in the home before the blaze.

“As of right now, we lost everything,” Hodgson said on Thursday. “As far as I can tell, I believe the washer and dryer and my deep freezer are salvageable. I think that is about it.”

The American Red Cross was contacted shortly after fire about providing temporary housing for the family. Hodgson and his family were living in a motel in Ottawa for three days while searching for a place to go, he said.

“We just spoke with a lady about renting a duplex in Ottawa and we got it,” Hodgson, an employee of Houston-based U.S. Pipeline, said Thursday. “We just have to wait for the people to move their stuff out so we can go in. We don’t have anything to move.”

The house caught fire at about 2:33 p.m. Wednesday, ignited by a portable heater being used in the crawl space underneath the home to thaw out some frozen water lines, according to the report from the Ottawa Fire Department. The fire initially was put out by the fire department–with damages contained to the immediate area of the fire, Jeff Carner, Ottawa Fire Chief, said. Brandi, Bridgette and Drew were in the home when it first caught fire, Hodgson said. Everyone in the home at the time of the fire made it out safely and without injury, Carner said.

The fire rekindled at about 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, this time spreading to the first and second floors and to the attic of the home, venting itself through the roof, Carner said.

“Our assumption would be that there was a rekindle that occurred,” he said. “Because of the extent of the damage, it is difficult to say for sure, but a reasonable assumption would be when the fire started the first time, it was in the crawl space underneath the home and we assume it probably traveled horizontally under the home. After we cleared it the first time there was apparently enough heat in the crawl space that, over time, the heat built up and restarted the fire.”

“There are areas in the crawl space that would not be visible,” Carner said. “When we left, clearly there was no indication or reason to believe that there would be a rekindle, but, obviously, one occurred.”

Before the second fire, Hodgson had gotten a few of his possessions, including his guns and ammo, out of the house and was with his oldest daughter, Brittney, and her husband Jay, at their home, 513 S. Oak St., Ottawa, when he learned the house was burning again, he said.

“We got a call saying the house was back on fire,” Hodgson said. “I got there and flames were shooting through the roof.”

The second fire took its toll on the home and the contents within. Carner said the home now is unlivable, with an estimated damage of $90,000, including both the structure and contents.

“When we do estimates, it is just that,” he said. “Realistically speaking, I would say the structure is a total loss. Anything can be rebuilt, but, economically speaking, I doubt it would be cost effect to do so.”

The appraised value of the four-bedroom home is $64,000, according to the Franklin County Appraiser’s Office.

No one was home at the time of the second fire, Carner said.

Hodgson said the family did not have renter’s insurance, and the property owner, Bryan Ferguson, Ottawa, declined to comment.

The second fire was not considered suspicious in nature, Carner said.

“Because we were there earlier in the time frame, it would be a reasonable assumption that it was, in fact, a rekindle that occurred,” Carner said.

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