Crews battle fire Monday morning at Fairlawn Green apartment complex

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital Journal – July 24, 2017

Photo by Phil Anderson

An early-morning fire on Monday forced the evacuation of a building at a west Topeka apartment complex, with no serious injuries reported.

The blaze was reported at 3:44 a.m. in a building at the northwest corner of the Fairlawn Green Apartments complex, 5230 S.W. 20th Terrace. The building was just south of Topeka West High School.

Multiple fire companies responded to the two-alarm blaze, which officials said started on in a third-floor unit of the building.

Three people — two adults and a small child — were inside the unit at the time of the fire: Monique Quarles, Ausha Scott and Avionna Scotot-Quarles, 2.

Quarles said the blaze started after she found a bug in the bedroom of the unit and tried to kill it by burning it with a small flip-style lighter.

Quarles said sparks shot out of the lighter and got onto the mattress, which then caught fire.

After attempting to put out the mattress fire, and with smoke building inside their unit, Quarles and the others got out of their unit, pounding on doors to alert other apartment residents of the fire and telling them to get out of the building.

Topeka Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Herrera said first-arriving fire crews found smoke and flames coming from the unit. Upon their arrival, crews sprayed water into the unit from outside to help knock down the smoke and flames and reduce the heat inside the unit before firefighters made their way inside to attack the blaze.

Herrera said the fire was contained to the apartment unit where it originated, though some damage was reported to have extended into the attic area.

Herrera said one person from the apartment complex was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor smoke inhalation. That person’s injuries weren’t believed to be serious.

Later, around 6 a.m., a firefighter was transported to a local hospital by American Medical Response ambulance after experiencing heat-related distress. Herrera said the firefighter was taken to the hospital for evaluation and that his condition wasn’t considered life-threatening.

Several cats were rescued from the smoke-filled building, with oxygen administered to a couple of the pets.

Firefighters had two ladders extended to reach the third-floor apartment where the fire began.

As crews were on the scene, a number of apartment residents gathered along the west fence line after they had been displaced from their units.

The apartment dwellers then gathered in the apartment manager’s office around 5:30 a.m.

The same apartment complex was the scene of another large fire in the early-morning hours of July 18, 2016 — also on a Monday.

A Topeka fire investigator was called to the scene to determine the official cause of the blaze. There were no immediate damage estimates.


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

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