Rural Iola house destroyed by Saturday fire

By Richard Luken
Iola Register – May 18, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – May 29, 2015

iola fire 5292015

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A pre-dawn fire destroyed the home of Kathy Alcorn Gravatt north of Iola early Saturday, sending one of its occupants to the hospital.

Julie Lukes, who was sleeping upstairs, was taken to Allen County Regional Hospital for second-and third-degree burns to her arms and for smoke inhalation, said Amy Winn, Alcorn Gravatt’s daughter.

“I had been watching TV and was just going to bed when I saw the fire coming from blow our air conditioner,” Alcorn Gravatt told the Register.

She unsuccessfully tried to douse the fire with water, and as the fire spread, she awakened the other occupants to alert them.

“The house was so old, the fire just spread too quickly,” she said. “I didn’t have a fire extinguisher. That might have been able to get it out.”

She and her roommate, Harold Gay, had three guests at the time.

One of the three, Lukes, has cerebral palsy and was unable to get out of bed as the other four exited the burning structure.

One of the others went back into the burning home to help rescue Lukes, said Darrell Baugh, Allen County Rural Volunteer Fire Chief.

By the time the Allen County volunteer department reached the scene, the house was fully engulfed in flames.

Mutual aid was provided by Iola and Anderson County firefighters as well.

Alcorn Gravatt and Gay are staying in a camper at their farmstead, just off U.S. 169 on Texas Road.

“They have electricity but no running water,” Winn said. “I’ve told them they can stay at my place, but so far, they’ve refused.”

Alcorn Gravatt lost three dogs and a cat in the fire. Another kitten was rescued hours after the fire had been extinguished. The cat was skittish but unhurt.

“She has several other animals there,” Winn said. “That’s part of why she doesn’t want to leave.”

Alcorn Gravatt had no fire insurance.

Winn lauded the work of the firefighters and first responders.

“They have been tremendous,” she said.

Lukes was dismissed from the hospital over the weekend.

Vaughn said the cause of the fire likely will never be determined.

He noted the air conditioner had only recently been turned on for the summer, and a satellite television system was installed the day before the fire.

“It could have been either of those, it could have been neither,” he said. “The damage was so extensive, we won’t be able to tell.”



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