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Archive for Monday, August 26, 2002

Pair injured in Geary County fire

August 26, 2002

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— A couple who managed a Geary County motel were badly burned Sunday morning when the building where they lived erupted in flames.

Lalji Patel and his wife, Kokila, were flown to Via Christi Regional Medical Center in Wichita, where they were on ventilators and in critical condition, the hospital's house supervisor said.

Maj. Garry Berges of the Geary County sheriff's department said burns covered 60 percent of Lalji Patel's body and 40 percent of Kokila Patel's body. The victims ages weren't immediately known.

The fire was reported about 7:15 a.m. Witnesses reported hearing two explosions in opposite ends of the main building of the Sunset Motel in the small town of Grandview Plaza, adjacent to Junction City.

Fire officials said only the couple and their son, Ravi Patel, 14, were in the building. The son was not hurt. The building is a total loss. Officials with the Kansas Fire Marshall's office were at the scene Sunday investigating the cause of the blast.

Berges said the preliminary indication is that a propane leak somewhere in the building caused the explosions.

Sheriff Jim Jensen of the Geary County Sheriff's Department said the fire would have been much worse if it occurred on a Kansas State University home football weekend. The motel is near Manhattan and would have been full, he said.

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