Electrical fire displaces Hutchinson couple Sunday night

By John Green
Hutchinson News – July 2, 2018

Photo by Travis Morisse

Twenty-three years to the day they moved in, a fire burned Larry and Roberta Goodwin out of their modest Hutchinson home.

The fire – which destroyed the top floor of the 3-bedroom home at 603 Ave. B, and damaged the ground floor from smoke and water – was blamed on an overheated cord to a window air-conditioning unit in a front upstairs window.

They’d replaced the cord because the original one was bad, said Roberta “Bobbi” Goodwin, 69.

It was longer than the original and they ran it under a wall. The fire began under the wall.

The Goodwins and their granddaughter, Tabitha Wheeler, escaped injury, though five kittens were killed by the fire, which the family discovered about 7:45 p.m. Sunday.

She was cooking dinner and heard a snapping sound, like from a campfire, Goodwin said. Her husband was watching television in the front room of the 790-square-foot home.

“I got about to the top of the stairs when I saw the flames and I came down,” she said.

Larry, 72, said he went upstairs to attempt to fight the fire, but that it was too hot.

“I tried to get up the stairs, but I’ve got a prosthesis and couldn’t get up fast enough,” he said. “The smoke will get you. I couldn’t even breathe.”

“The whole upstairs is gone,” Bobbi Goodwin said.

The house was insured and they were expecting to meet with an adjuster today, said the couple, sitting on the back patio of their home Monday morning as a cat and several other grey kittens ran around, and Wheeler sifted through the charred remains.

“I didn’t know what it was like having a fire,” Larry Goodwin said. “You don’t want to be in one. It went so fast. This old wood is so dry it just burns.”

The home was built in 1915, according to Reno County property records, and was last valued at about $45,000.

Upon arriving on the call, firefighters with Engine 3 found heavy smoke and flames pushing out of two upper windows of the home.

“Fire crews performed an aggressive interior attack and were able to stop the spread of the fire, however, not before it did extensive interior damage to the second floor and smoke damage to the first floor,” Fire Chief Steve Beer reported.

“The Hutchinson Fire Department advises residents not to overload circuits or to cover up electrical cords,” Beer advised. “With the heat continuing, it is easy to plug in extra fans or add in an additional window air conditioning unit to help with the heat. However, many times this overloads the electrical circuits.”


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