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Archive for Friday, February 1, 2002

Ice, flooding, fire create bad day for local couple

February 1, 2002

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To say Billy and Pam Kelch were having a bad day Thursday wouldn't even come close.

Their electricity was out. Ice melting in a gutter leaked water through the top of a window.

Then their house in the 2000 block of Maple Lane caught on fire.

"I couldn't even watch all of the movie on cable last night because the power went out, but I still had to pay for it," Billy Kelch, 56, said, after Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical extinguished the fire that damaged his roof and the family room.

Kelch was outside cleaning the ice off his truck about 2:30 p.m. when he smelled smoke and saw what he described as a gray haze. Then a man driving by in a van stopped and yelled to Kelch that his house was on fire.

About the same time, Pam Kelch, 51, heard the smoke detector go off inside the house.

"My husband came in and told me to get out now," Pam Kelch said. "I ran in the back room and grabbed our two dogs."

The Kelches say they have insurance but they weren't sure how much damage was caused to the house they've lived in about three years.

The fire occurred because the Kelches put too much wood in their fire place and "overstoked it," Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Deputy Chief Mark Bradford said. That caused a fire in the chimney that spread to the attic, he said.

The Kelches planned to stay with relatives until their house could be repaired. Douglas County Red Cross is also assisting the family.

In addition to the fire damage, Billy Kelch also was worried about ice-covered tree limbs. Numerous limbs were down along Maple Lane and the surrounding East Lawrence neighborhood.

"There's still a limb hanging down and threatening to fall on the back porch," Billy Kelch said.

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