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Fire destroys house on Tennessee Street

No one injured, house deemed total loss

Fire crews were called to a house fire at 17th and Tennessee streets Monday night shortly before 10:00 p.m.

Fire crews were called to a house fire at 17th and Tennessee streets Monday night shortly before 10:00 p.m.

December 14, 2009, 10:19 p.m. Updated December 15, 2009, 12:53 a.m.

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Crews respond to Tennessee Street fire

Firefighters were on scene Monday night working to put out a fire at a Tennessee Street residence. The fire was called in just before 10 p.m. Enlarge video

Resident interview: Leighton Watts

Leighton Watts describes the events of Monday night's structure fire at 17th and Tennessee streets. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical declared the structure a total loss. Enlarge video

Trees are covered in ice around the house at the southeast corner of 17th and Tennessee that was destroyed in a fire Monday night.

Trees are covered in ice around the house at the southeast corner of 17th and Tennessee that was destroyed in a fire Monday night.

Bicycles coated in ice sit in the back of the home at 17th and Tennessee after it was destroyed in a fire Monday night.

Bicycles coated in ice sit in the back of the home at 17th and Tennessee after it was destroyed in a fire Monday night.

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If were in the area of the house fire and have a photo you'd like to submit, send it here.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical crews responded about 9:50 p.m. Monday to a structure a fire on at the southeast corner of 17th and Tennessee streets.

Multiple emergency crews were on scene and traffic on streets in the immediate vicinity of the residence was closed. Smoke billowing from the two-story apartment building could be seen from several blocks away and flames were visible from the east side of the building's upper level. Crews attacked the fire from several different positions around the home, including making use one of the fire truck's ladders to cover the flames from above.

Leighton Watts, a resident of the one of the building's apartments, said he was on the top floor of the building when he smelled smoke and saw it coming up from the stairs. Watts said he grabbed a fire extinguisher and attempted to put out the flames, but quickly realized it was too late. He was able to get himself and several friends who were visiting out safely.

People from residences in the area stood around in the 13 degree weather to watch crews as they worked to put the fire out.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical issued a media release just after midnight Tuesday in regard to the fire. The release stated crews responded to the two-alarm fire and began a defensive fire attack because of the large amount of fire that was visible and spreading across the roof.

All the building's occupants were accounted for and there were no injuries to department personnel while fighting the fire, which crews at the scene advised was under control about midnight Tuesday.

The structure was declared a total loss.

The American Red Cross and the University of Kansas are assisting the displaced occupants. An investigation into the cause is ongoing and an estimate of the damages was not available as of 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Check back to LJWorld.com for more information as it becomes available.

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Comments

grammaddy 4 years, 4 months ago

Thanks Otto and bevy, I will check that out!!

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Multidisciplinary 4 years, 4 months ago

R_V, wrong assumption, but thanks for playing. ;)

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workinghard 4 years, 4 months ago

ksarmychick- Gage was allowed to rent it out with the violations because by city law, once you moved out the violations were wiped out and no longer existed until someone complains again. This is a huge loophole that needs to be closed so slumlords would be forced to fix the violations before they can rent it again. All the slumlords have to do is force you out by not fixing it and they are home free. I could name another slumlord well known to the city that does this very same thing. His places are death traps and the inspectors are well aware of it.

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bevy 4 years, 4 months ago

grammaddy - call the fire department and ask them when/if they are giving out free smoke detectors. My local volunteer fire dept out in the county did this for us a couple of years ago - they even came and installed them! (They put one right above the fireplace, which ended up going off EVERY time I lit the fire so I had to move it.)

If they aren't having such a program themselves, they might be able to point you to one.

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workinghard 4 years, 4 months ago

Kookamooka--Oh look, fire caused by tenant, is that even possible? Most rental fires are caused by tenant, not owner.

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otto 4 years, 4 months ago

grammady -- some of my comments have been taken the wrong way today, so --- i'm trying to be helpful when I say this. At least go buy a couple of smoke detectors and place them in the house. Put them on a nail close to every bedroom. They probably cost about$10 a piece. They are pretty much self contained with a 9 volt battery in them. Give them to your daughter, she can take them with her when she moves.

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grammaddy 4 years, 4 months ago

So who do you talk to about a rental house that is not on the list. The house in question has no smoke alarms and I thought that was the law.I'm concerned for a daughter and grandchildren who live there.

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Kookamooka 4 years, 4 months ago

Tis the season to cash in on all losses before the end of 2009. I'll bet we see quite a few more of these before Jan 1st. Shameful and sad, but...quite a good business tactic.

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toddtrip 4 years, 4 months ago

4 sure - compton will buy the vacant lot!

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workinghard 4 years, 4 months ago

Before blaming the house, what until the report comes out. I had a rental once, until the tenant burned it down with a candle. When it first came out in the paper though, the tenant blamed the furnace because we had it serviced a couple of days before. They were furious when it came out in the paper the next day that they had left a candle burning and went to bed. They didn't hear the smoke detectors because they were high and had passed out.

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hipper_than_hip 4 years, 4 months ago

The city should require all rental properties to be inspected. Period.

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otto 4 years, 4 months ago

Z- I agree with what you are saying, I agree that if these houses are problems, something should be done. I don't have any info to debate. I am ignorant on these larger houses. Sorry if I went in another direction. My point was a shallow one only in regards to why someones address may not be on the list, nothing more. Have a good day.

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Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 4 months ago

Multidisciplinary (Anonymous) says…

Somebody named KoolKeithFreeze signs up on Dec. 26, 2004…and doesn't make his first comment until now.

Doing background checks on everyone now? Sounds like you need a hobby...

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 4 months ago

otto, you missed the entire point. You want to debate one instance, the point I was illustrating is a larger issue. The issue is that most of these large houses are in very poor condition. None of them were designed to be apartments and few of them meet current building codes. The city has allowed these properties to fall into disrepair by failing to hold the owner/landlord responsible. If anything, the loophole of not requiring inspections in certain zoning should be closed and you have further illustrated the problem my original post was an effort to point out. None of these properties should be allowed to be rental units without being inspected to ensure that they meet current building codes and comply with life safety issues. As an example with this particular instance. Typical RMG and RM32 zoning and the building code that would apply to these types of structures would require a sprinkler system, adequate parking per number of bedrooms, egress windows in every bedroom, and a host of other requirements. From what I saw of this structure this morning, it failed to meet any of these. I'm alleging that these and many other factors contributed to the outcome of this particular case. I am very glad no one was hurt as it very well could have ended differently. Again, I was trying to illustrate a larger problem within this particular neighborhood, this instance just seems particularly fitting.

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otto 4 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Ltown34 4 years, 4 months ago

The house at 1700 Tennessee st. is zoned RM32 a multiple-person dwelling. If you are going to break out the city zoning map in an attempt to say something about either the owners of the property or the zoning laws of the city, make sure you know how to read it.

Just FYI, 1726 Tennesee and your neighbors eyesore is also zoned RM32 and the frat across the street from this burned house is the only section of Tennessee zoned differently between 16th and Tennessee and 18th and Tennessee and it is zoned RMG (multiple-person Greek).

Just thought I would drop some truth on you guys

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somedude20 4 years, 4 months ago

I live in the "ghetto" 17th and Kentucky in an apartment bld and I did not see the address on the list. My landlord is always trying to get away with stuff and would be nice to put his/her feet in the fire. Not like these people give back all/most/half/some of the deposit. Hell, they bank on keeping your money. The person who owns the building is very shady (nice to use a youthful term)

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 4 months ago

"at first I thought zstoltenberg was trying to do something positive, but now I realize it's a personal agenda against the one house next to them. My clues were- posting inaccurate/misleading information, calling otto a slumlord for clarifying, than making stupid assumptions. I checked the zoning map. That house is in a multiple, not a single, dwelling zone." - justastudent

No personal agenda, believe me, if you knew how closely my business is associated with rental properties you would have to swallow your own tongue. I don't have a problem at all with rental property, as long as it is well maintained, cared for, and legally registered with the city. You better check the map again, here's a link in case you're confused.

http://ims03.ci.lawrence.ks.us:10002/website/LawrenceGIS/viewer.htm

otto wasn't clarifying, he was throwing out a red herring without any fact to back it up. I called him on it then proved him wrong.

I also posted links to all the sources I was pulling my information from, so not sure where you are getting the inaccurate/misleading claim from. It's difficult to argue with cited sources and references.

Caddie, I am sincerely sorry your parents lost their investment property. Hopefully it was ensured and they will be able to build/re-build. I hate seeing another historic home destroyed and sincerely feel terrible for the displaced tenants. Something like this isn't good for anyone, I am simply trying to illustrate a larger problem within our city and specifically this neighborhood and this occurrence is a perfect example.

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ksarmychick 4 years, 4 months ago

Not suprised my last rental that was under gage management did not show up on the list, but the neighbors house that is under different management did show up. But then again gage management runs a slumlord business and doens't have to answer to anyone. We had numerious violations that they refused to fix even after being given two 30 day fix it or move out violation letter to them. After the second written letter we sent them with code violations, they still refused to fix anything on the property. We had over 10 violations from the gutters hanging off the house, nails sticking up through the floor that stabbed the bottom of our feet. We had leaky roof that on several occasions shorted out the furnace from the water dripping into it. We also had our heater go out in the middle of a blizzard(called gage at 1pm) with freezing temperatures during their business hours, we called the office and was informed that someone would be right out(as laws state that when the temperature is below a certain level they must fix it because it is considered an emergency), several hours later no one showed up, we called back and were informed the receptionist forgot to call maintance, they finally showed up after 10 pm, didn't have the parts and told us they couldn't fix it until tomorrow we had to deal with no heat(we had an infant child at home and the temperature in the house was already below 50 degrees), I got mad and in not such a nice way told them too bad they were going to fix it(this was already after we sent them the 2nd 30 day notice) and magically within 30 mins the parts arrived. But the worst part about the property had a tree running through the sewer line so that the bath tubs on both the properties(we lived in a duplex) would back up into eachother and sewage would overflow all over the floor daily. But according to gage management this wasn't a necessary fix or a heath code violation. After a call to the code enforment they finally "fixed" it. But their fix was just to undo the pipes to the sewer line, and let the drains drain under the house. You could sit in the bath tub and hear the water dripping into the dirt. Needless to say after the 30 day grace period to fix the propery or we could break the lease, the property was not brought up to code and we ended up moving out. But gage management was still allowed to rent the place out with code violations, because the city inspector never came back to check up on the 3 day fixes they were required to do and never did. Until the city code enforcement does their job renters will continue to be treated like crap from slumlords that take advantage of hardworking families.

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KMK88 4 years, 4 months ago

I appreciate what caddie and otto are saying. No one is safe making assumptions zsto. You assume it's the house and not human error. Not deliberate error, but the same issues that would probably be found, at this moment, in your home. I'm sure the fire department will continue to do an expert job and evaluate the situation. People have just lost their homes. Maybe you can see what you can do to help.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 4 months ago

"You should just know the requirements for the registration before talking about it, that's all." - SLUMLORD OTTO

Well otto, my guess is that since 1726 is on the list, and 1726 is two or three doors down from the property in question, that this is indeed a single family neighborhood, at least as far as zoning goes and would, therefore, require the property to be registered. Since you continue to debate me without any facts, I went to the map. The property that barbecued is zoned RS5 as is 1726 and both sides of that entire street. According to the 2006 adoption of the city code, RS5 is a Single-Dwelling Residential District.

Perhaps YoU otto, should know what you are talking about before spouting off. God help whomever lives in your rentals, I hope they carry renter's insurance.

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notjustastudent 4 years, 4 months ago

at first I thought zstoltenberg was trying to do something positive, but now I realize it's a personal agenda against the one house next to them. My clues were- posting inaccurate/misleading information, calling otto a slumlord for clarifying, than making stupid assumptions. I checked the zoning map. That house is in a multiple, not a single, dwelling zone.

You would have been better taking the route supercow did- exellent point, no need to point fingers or make assumptions with that statement.

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caddie1324 4 years, 4 months ago

A house burned down. A one that is inspected every year due to how old it is. There were fire extinguishers throughout the house (which were used to try and put out the fire, but it was too big by the time the upstairs tenant firgured it out, and up to date fire detectors. Those are my parents who own the house and I think some of you are being very disrespectful. Someone just lost a home. How about respect the fact they just lost a house and now have to pick up the pieces. For Blondie1 I have never met anyone who takes better care of their houses and and tenants if they are respected by their tenants and their house is not trashed which seems to happen often.

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notjustastudent 4 years, 4 months ago

Otto is correct. My first thought when I looked at the list was "Wow at least half the rentals in this town aren't listed, this is way too short!" But then I noticed something weird- I thought of one place I've lived that would be on the list (which had amazingly awesome landlords) that had a numbered street address, but there was no option for this, only streets with letters are listed. I don't get it. Maybe I'm missing something...

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supercowbellninja 4 years, 4 months ago

Isn't the larger issue here not what neighborhood the rentals are in, but whether they are habitable? Why aren't we registering ALL rentals regardless of location/zoning? There are some real dump holes in this town and they should all be held to the same standard no matter where they are located.

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otto 4 years, 4 months ago

You should just know the requirements for the registration before talking about it, that's all.

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hipper_than_hip 4 years, 4 months ago

Only rentals in single family neighborhoods have to be registered, so lots of rental properties don't show up on the list.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 4 months ago

The fact that there are numerous other registered rentals in this area would lead me to believe that the zoning does require it. You're sounding like a slum lord otto, be careful.

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otto 4 years, 4 months ago

City code requires rental units located in single family zoned districts to be licensed annually and inspected once every three years pursuant to the City of Lawrence Rental Inspection Ordinance

So I would guess that if the house is zoned differently it wouldn't need to be on this list.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 4 months ago

If you are a renter in Lawrence, make sure your residence is on this list. It is what provides oversight and protection to you as a tenant. It's not expensive to the landlord, it just requires that they keep their property in a condition fit for habitation. If they can't meet those basic requirements, they shouldn't be renting out their property. Good luck getting the city to follow up on it though. I live next to an unregistered rental, the eyesore of the neighborhood. Nothing has been done despite repeated calls to the city. Again, we can waste all the time talking about new laws and restrictions when the city can't enforce what's already on the books.

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blondie1 4 years, 4 months ago

To stoltenberg... thank you, that was very enlightening!

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TNPlates 4 years, 4 months ago

Thanks Olmsted. I believe you're correct.

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somedude20 4 years, 4 months ago

hmmmmmmmm did not see my place on that rental list. Wonder if my sneaky and conniving land-lady is pulling a fast one

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 4 months ago

I can only assume that this is one of many unregistered rental properties in the city, at least it's not on the list.

http://www.lawrenceks.org/pds/registered_rentals/list#t

Due to the fact that the article states the occupants lived in apartments and never called them owners as well as the comments of previous renters at the property, I believe I am safe in this assumption. There is a reason rentals are required to be registered, they are inspected. Usually a slumlord with an unregistered rental has failed to register it because they know it will not pass the required inspection. There is a city meeting about this very issue Wednesday night. They are proposing a change to the existing verbage and parking requirements on these types of structures. The proposed change is absolutely ridiculous and will NOT change any of the alleged problems it was written to address. I suggest that those concerned about the enforcement of our existing laws attend the meeting and urge our city to stop wasting resources on ridiculous proposals and instead enforce the existing laws so as not to allow continued instances such as this. Way to go Treni, way to go.

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olmsted78 4 years, 4 months ago

that one was an apartment on kentucky around the same crossroad, i think.

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TNPlates 4 years, 4 months ago

Was this the same house that burned in 2000 or was that one on the SE corner of Kentucky and 17th?

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blondie1 4 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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beachmama 4 years, 4 months ago

LDCFM...there IS no substitute.

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frankfussman 4 years, 4 months ago

KoolKeithFreeze follows Bob Dylan's advice: "I'll know my song well before I start singing."

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Veritas 4 years, 4 months ago

I'm surprised this house made it this long without catching fire.

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jacoballsbrooks 4 years, 4 months ago

my basement and the entire neighborhood have been flooded with water. The firefighters were amazing in the way they handled bringing over a pump while fighting the fire...cudos...and thank you for doing so...we would be without heat or warm water otherwise.....sources tell me that the fire was started with a stove.....The lawrence fire department runs a top-notch outfit and i am proud to have met them...peace

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kusp8 4 years, 4 months ago

If KU is involved does this mean they'll be given a free dorm room? I hope so.

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feeble 4 years, 4 months ago

A stark reminder about the importance of renter's insurance, especially if you rent in the Oread neighborhood. Glad to read that everyone made it out alive. Material things can be replaced, lives cannot.

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Multidisciplinary 4 years, 4 months ago

Somebody named KoolKeithFreeze signs up on Dec. 26, 2004...and doesn't make his first comment until now.

Details about a multiple alarm fire on one freezing cold night..that just happens to be right down the street from him?

:)

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cletus26 4 years, 4 months ago

i hope everyone got out safely; whether frat house or small house. and i hope everyone had insurance.

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Eliott Reeder 4 years, 4 months ago

smoke all across campus. craziness. small white house on the corner, student ghetto flat split into several apartments. right down the street from me.

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Jacob_Burghart 4 years, 4 months ago

It wasn't the frat. it was the house caddy-corner to the frat. i know. i was there.

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