Archive for Monday, February 9, 2009

Early-morning fire caused by overheated food

Firefighters responded to a kitchen fire at West Hills Apartments, 1012 Emery Rd. The fire severely damaged one apartment but was contained by emergency responders.

February 9, 2009, 3:18 a.m. Updated February 9, 2009, 2:11 p.m.


Fire spurs apartment evacuation

Investigators say an early-morning apartment fire was caused by overheated food in a microwave. Enlarge video

John Carlsen was startled by a heavy knock on his door.

It was just after 2 a.m. Monday and there was a police officer outside of the Kansas University junior’s apartment.

“He said to get out,” he recalled. Carlsen and his roommate grabbed their dog, Brunie, and evacuated the residence at West Hills Apartments, 1012 Emery Road.

Outside, they found firefighters responding to a two-alarm fire at their four-story building.

“This is all freaking me out,” Carlsen said, gazing at the fire trucks. “It’s where I live. It’s scary.”

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Capt. Pat Karlin said the fire was mostly contained to the kitchen and there was also “considerable smoke damage” on the second floor of the building.

The initial damage estimate was at least $10,000, Division Chief Eve Tolefree said.

She said the fire was accidental and caused by overheated cooking products in the microwave.

Medical crews treated one person at the scene for smoke inhalation.

Karlin said the Douglas County Red Cross is providing relief for those who lived in the fire-stricken apartment. Officials evacuated between 30 and 40 people during the incident, Karlin said.

Initial police responders arrived at the complex and found smoke and flames on the second floor of Building E. Lawrence Police Sgt. Ted Bordman said that an officer was able to put out some of the fire with an extinguisher. Fire crews extinguished the remaining flames when they arrived.

Officers blocked traffic at Ninth Street and Emery Road during the incident.

As firefighters entered the building, about two dozen residents stood around outside. The complex has several multistory buildings.

Many of Building E’s residents left their apartments too quickly to get dressed, and emergency crews offered blankets to them.

Lawrence police made one arrest during the incident. Bordman said that officers had secured the building during the fire call. One resident kept trying to get back inside the building.

“When we told him not to go inside the building, he battered two of our officers and was arrested,” Bordman said. The individual was booked into jail on suspicion of battery on a law enforcement officer and obstruction.

Residents began returning to their apartments about 3:35 a.m. Fire officials began departing from the scene just before 4 a.m.


compmd 8 years ago

Good job by the police and fire crews. I'm glad they were able to act quickly to keep this from becoming a tragedy.

Sharon Aikins 8 years ago

This could have been tragic had it gotten out of control. Kudos to both the police and fire departments.

LarryLarryLarry 8 years ago

Microwaves may be unsafe and should be inspected. The city needs to inspect microwaves that are more than 5 years old, annually. The cost is well worth the lifes the program may save! We need three new full time city wave inspectors. It will only cost homeowners $50/yr. Of course I'm kidding! Unfortunately that's how Lawrence works.

Danielle Brunin 8 years ago

I hope they had renter's insurance.

peace03 8 years ago

The amazing thing is the residents knew about the microwave burning at least 6 hours prior but just ignored the smell of burning until the actual smoke alarms went off in the building...

beawolf 8 years ago

To paraphase Larry,Larry,Larry.."Stupid people may be unsafe and should be inspected. The city needs to inspect Stupid people that are more than 5 years old, annually. The cost is well worth the lifes the program may save! We need three new full time city "stupid" inspectors. It will only cost homeowners $50/yr."

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