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Archive for Tuesday, January 26, 1993

FIRE INVESTIGATORS INTERVIEW VICTIM

January 26, 1993

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Investigators on Monday began to get a better understanding of the scene inside a Lawrence apartment building where two people suffered fatal injuries in an arson fire Jan. 17.

Lawrence Fire Marshal Rich Barr said two investigators on Monday were finally able to interview Ella Farmer, 43, the only adult who was in an apartment where six people were injured.

Farmer has been hospitalized since the fire at her apartment, 714 W. 25th.

Monday morning, Barr said, Farmer's condition had taken a downward turn. But Monday afternoon, he said, doctors notified investigators that her condition had improved so much that investigators could interview her.

The interview turned out to be brief, Barr said, because Farmer was tired and could not speak very clearly.

Barr said the most crucial piece of information gathered during the interview was that the six people who were hospitalized after the fire were the only ones who had been in the apartment.

Farmer's daughter, LaTonya, 17, died shortly after the fire. A friend of LaTonya's, Brandy Martin, 13, died the following day from injuries she suffered in the fire.

Three of LaTonya's nieces, ages 7, 4 and 2, also were injured.

Barr said investigators remained unsure whether everyone was asleep when the fire started in the four-unit building. The six people in the Farmers' apartment were the only people in the building when firefighters arrived.

Barr said investigators hoped to interview Ella Farmer again later this week to obtain further details about the fire and the hours preceding the blaze.

Investigators still have no suspects, Barr said. He said investigators had "a real good idea" how the fire started, but he refused to elaborate.

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