One person hospitalized after fire in northern Lawrence

By Conrad Swanson
Lawrence Journal World – May 9, 2017

Photo by Conrad Swanson

One person was hospitalized and an apartment complex on Lawrence’s north side was left uninhabitable after a fire on Monday night, firefighters say.

At 10:48 p.m. a fire was reported at a complex at 521 Minnesota St., said Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Division Chief James King.

The initial report triggered a single-alarm fire, which dispatches two water-pumping trucks, two medics, a heavy rescue unit and a chief officer, King said. At the scene, emergency responders found visible flames and smoke and called a second alarm. That call dispatches an additional pumping truck, medic, chief officer and sends out a safety officer as well, he said.

Two residents of the apartment complex — a man and a woman — were driven by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, King said. The man and the woman lived in separate apartments in the building, he said.

One of the two people taken to the hospital was admitted with nonlife-threatening injuries, King said. The second was later released. He could not immediately say which of the two residents was hospitalized or elaborate on the nature of the injuries.

King said he had heard that a woman jumped from the second floor of the complex during the fire, but he could not independently verify that claim on Tuesday morning.

Firefighters gained control of the fire about 11:30 p.m., Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Division Chief Eve Tolefree said in a news release. No firefighters were injured.

Tuesday morning, King and other firefighters gathered at the complex, looking for a cause.

The entire building has four apartments. The ground-level unit on the complex’s west side suffered the most damage.

King said that apartment appears to be where the fire originated.

Inside the unit, walls and ceilings were torn out and holes were punched in the drywall that was left up. Insulation and charred pieces of wood were scattered throughout the unit and in some places standing water remained from the night before. Broken window glass littered the lawn.

The entire building is uninhabitable for the time being, King said.

Upstairs, the building’s east unit suffered the least amount of damage, King explained — partially due to the apartment’s door having been closed.

The unit directly above the apartment where the fire started was left charred and damaged by smoke, King said. That unit’s front door was left open, which allowed the flames to travel up the building’s staircase and into the unit, he said.

The open door “created a flow path for the fire,” he said.

In most situations, closing a door can hinder the spread of a fire enough to make a difference, King said. This is the case even if the door has a hollow core, or is of poor quality. Anything helps, he said.

“Keeping a door closed is important,” he said. “It will extend the amount of time it takes for a fire to reach that space.”

“It can make a significant difference in the survive-ability of a fire and the protection of property,” he said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, King and Tolefree said.

A different two-alarm fire Sunday night sent one person to the hospital, Tolefree said.

The fire was reported at 8:24 p.m. in an apartment at 1904 W. 24th St., Tolefree said. Emergency responders arrived on the scene and found smoke coming from the top floor of the three-story building.

The flames were under control by 9:13 p.m., Tolefree said. One building resident was taken to LMH with nonlife-threatening injuries. In addition a cat was rescued from a different apartment in the building. No firefighters were injured.

The cause of the fire and damage to the building remain under investigation, Tolefree said.

Residents who have been displaced by fire have been put in touch with the American Red Cross, who will help them find a place to stay.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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