Archive for Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fire destroys home just outside city

October 2, 2007


Flames engulf a home at 1779 E. 1338 Road around 11 a.m. Monday. The Wakarusa Township Fire Department responded first to the blaze, and was aided by several other township units. Nobody was home at the time of the fire.

Flames engulf a home at 1779 E. 1338 Road around 11 a.m. Monday. The Wakarusa Township Fire Department responded first to the blaze, and was aided by several other township units. Nobody was home at the time of the fire.

Fire engulfs house north of Lawrence

Fire sweeps through a house north of Lawrence this morning leaving a Douglas County woman and her son with no place to call home. Enlarge video

Flames ripped through a house north of Lawrence on Monday morning, destroying the residence of a Douglas County woman and her son.

The cause of the blaze at 1779 E. 1338 Road remains under investigation by the Kansas State Fire Marshal's office.

The agency completed its on-scene investigation Monday and is expected to have a report complete by the end of the week, Wakarusa Township Fire Chief Chris Moore said.

"The structure is going to be a total loss," Moore said of the damages. He estimated structural damage to be between $130,000 and $150,000.

Residents who live in the rural neighborhood knew something was wrong just before 11 a.m.

"I put my dog out, and I noticed it was a little bit hazy looking," neighbor Katie Northern said. "Next thing you know, the house was on fire."

Moore said the first unit to respond noted flames from the basement all the way up to the roof on two sides of the building, with the interior floor partially collapsed.

The Wakarusa Township department was the first to be dispatched to the scene because the residence is located outside the Lawrence city limits.

"This is considered the county so it took awhile," Northern said, as she and her neighbors watched the township's volunteer firefighters battle the blaze. "It seemed like it took awhile for the fire department to get down here, which I'm kind of concerned about, since I have little ones."

Firefighters had to try several ways to get water to the scene, though the home is just a block north of the city limits.

A nearby hydrant was not functional, Moore said.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Division Chief Rob Kort said more than a half-dozen surrounding townships shuttled water to the scene until firefighters were allowed to hook up to a hydrant in the city limits. It took firefighters almost three hours to bring the blaze under control.

Moore said crews never ran out of water and the issue of arranging water sources did not lead to further damage to the structure.

Wakarusa Township firefighters remained on the scene throughout Monday, extinguishing hot spots and aiding in the investigation.

In the afternoon, homeowner Chris Pettie returned to survey the damage. Pettie, who lived in the house with her son, said there likely was little that could be salvaged from the home she's lived in for about three years.

"I stood on the sun porch with the fire guy," she said. "He let me stand there, and I could see that everything was destroyed."

Pettie and her son were not at home when the blaze erupted and they did not have any pets.

Pettie said firefighters had shown her the fire's "point of origin" which was in her son's basement bedroom, in the corner where his television and VCR were located.

The Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting Pettie and her son with lodging and other needs.


simplyamazed 10 years, 7 months ago

I agree with you that it is not acceptable but our surrounding townships and fire departments are required to get permission to hook up to City of Lawrence fire hydrants. What a horrible shame! We, the people of Douglas County, need to address this issue so no other residents like this one will have to wait for permission while their belongs are being destoryed by fire. The City of Lawrence does not want others hooking up to their hydrants because they have to report water usage whether it be sold to customers or simply a water loss. I would feel certain that if another fire department was going to use the City's hydrant, they would report the water usage. These firefighters are respectable people and would report the usage. If the truth were known, the residents of the townships would help pay for the usage so the City of Lawrence wouldn't have to report it as a loss. We would not want the City to whine about water loss in the next budget session! The upper City management that requires the permission of firefighters to hook up to a City owned hydrant should be ashamed of this action! Its not like they are filling up a swimming pool (as I have known to happen) they are trying to save a home, a persons belongings, ultimate treasures that can not ever be replaced. But OH NO...THESE FIREFIGHTERS MUST SEEK PERMISSION. WHAT A DISGRACE ON OUR CITY GOVERNMENT. Thanks must be said to Chief Chris Moore, Wakarusa Fire Department, volunteers, and the others that participated in the shuttle. You did your best but had to deal with alot of adversities. We the residents of the county do appreciate all of your hard work! You guys are great! One reason it may have taken them so long to get there is because the City of Lawrence will not let them have the devices to trip the signal lights through town either. So, they have to stop at all lights just like everyone else. Another shame point for the City. Wakarusa Township is a great place to get an education in firefighting but they are the best kept secret around. Most of the training for firefighters starts at Wakarusa and then they get on with the City and this is the way the City shows appreciation. I am simply amased.....

simplyamazed 10 years, 7 months ago

I know the firefighters at Wakarusa and they are dedicated, honest, family people and would not do anything they shouldn't. But for the City to say they have to get permission to have water to save a house is criminal. They also have trouble getting water for shuttles on trainning too. Let a big fire happen in Lawrence and Wakarusa will be the first to help out. I heard they were trying to set up a water shuttle to show the ISO rating staff they could maintain a water shuttle to their residents and the City might not let them use City hydrants for that either. What that would do for the residents is lower the ISO rating for different areas of the County which in turn helps the residents lower their homeowners insurance. Bet the County residents didn't know that one! Things need to change in the City government and quickly. We all suffer in the city and county by their dumb actions.

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