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Archive for Friday, March 6, 1998

FIRE DAMAGES VACANT HOUSE

March 6, 1998

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A vacant house, already damaged by fire, was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived Thursday morning.

An Oread neighborhood house early Thursday was hit by fire for the second time in three months, leaving fire officials wondering if the fire was purposely set.

No one was living at the two-story house at 917 Ohio, and no utilities were in service, leading investigators to suspect it wasn't an accidental fire.

``We are classifying it as suspicious,'' said Jerry Karr, a battalion chief for the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire and Medical.

``It was bad when we got there. We had heavy fire on the front porch with flames extending to the roof line,'' Karr said. ``The first floor, the second floor and the attic were in flames.''

Firefighters were alerted at 5:46 a.m., and crews blocked Ohio from Ninth to 10th streets.

The house is owned by Gary Weeks, who is applying for a permit from the city to demolish the house. Weeks rented the four apartments in the house until it was damaged Dec. 5 in a fire that fire officials said was started by ``careless use of smoking materials.'' Residents were forced to move because of the extensive damage.

Karr said the house is not salvageable, but the loss is listed as only $1,000 because Weeks did not have insurance on the property. Damage in the original fire was estimated at $18,000.

Weeks was not available for comment.

Fire investigators were at the house until 5 p.m. Thursday; they will return this morning to check for a cause of the fire.

No one was injured in either fire.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is koger@ljworld.com.

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