Archive for Friday, January 1, 1999


January 1, 1999


The Tornedens are starting the New Year with nothing.

Ovyd Torneden was burned Thursday afternoon as he escaped his burning home on N. 1200 Road. He managed to get out with one of his dogs, Samson, a poodle.

Another dog, Tippy, a German shepherd-blue heeler mix, died in the fire.

The Douglas County home where Torneden, 59; his wife, Verna, 50; and Mack Moreau lived was destroyed, along with all of their possessions. The house was not insured.

Ovyd Torneden was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and was listed in fair condition Thursday night.

Mrs. Torneden watched as Wakarusa Township firefighters worked to douse the fire.

"We lost everything," she said.

She sat in the yard in front of her daughter's home next door, while acquaintances stopped to make sure everyone was all right and offer support.

According to family members, Ovyd Torneden was alone in the house taking a nap in his hospital bed in the front room when the fire started. He has a history of heart trouble; he has a pacemaker and uses oxygen. He woke to flames around his bed. To escape, he walked through the flames, burning his feet and legs.

His daughter, Shanda Torneden, called emergency personnel at 2:14 p.m.

"I just looked outside and I saw the house was on fire," she said. "What a way to start the New Year."

The homes of Shanda Torneden and her parents are on the same 130-year-old family farm. The destroyed house at 1092 N. 1200 Road had been Ms. Torneden's great-grandmother's, built in 1953. Mrs. Torneden inherited it.

Wakarusa Township Fire Chief Louie McElhaney said the house was a complete loss.

McElhaney did not know the cause of the fire, he said, though it appeared to have been accidental. All available township volunteer firefighters responded to the scene, he said. They were still working to make sure all the flames were out two hours after arriving.

"We'll probably be here all night," McElhaney said. "We'll have to watch it. It'll smolder."

The value of the house was estimated at $25,000 to $30,000.

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is

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