Archive for Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lightning sparks fire at Aberdeen South

Damage estimated at $500,000

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical employees work the scene of a early-morning fire at Aberdeen South Apartment building JJ, 4700 W. 27th St. Ten people were displaced by the fire, but no one was injured. Insurance investigators are trying to determine the extent of the damage. The building is valued at $537,000.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical employees work the scene of a early-morning fire at Aberdeen South Apartment building JJ, 4700 W. 27th St. Ten people were displaced by the fire, but no one was injured. Insurance investigators are trying to determine the extent of the damage. The building is valued at $537,000.

October 8, 2009, 7:06 a.m. Updated October 8, 2009, 9:11 p.m.


Aberdeen South apartments fire

Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical crews responded to a fire call at Aberdeen South apartments, 4700 W. 27th Street, shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday.

Jennifer Goode woke up to the sound of a loud crash of thunder Thursday morning as a storm rolled through Lawrence.

Then, just before 6 a.m., she heard someone frantically ringing her doorbell warning her that the roof of her Aberdeen South apartment had caught fire.

About two hours later, she stood in the rain outside the building, 4700 W. 27th St. The fire had collapsed the roof and destroyed building JJ at the complex, displacing 10 people.

“Thank God, I got out when it started. It’s bad,” said Goode, a Washburn University student, who lives with her sister, Jessica, who was not home at the time.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire and Medical investigators Thursday evening confirmed a lightning strike on the southeast corner of the building caused the fire.

Nearly all residents of the building had evacuated once firefighters arrived. No one was injured in the fire.

Journal-World newspaper carriers Phil and Alex Victor were among those who reported the fire and knocked on the doors to alert residents.

Kim Springer, who lived on the building’s second floor, answered her doorbell at 6 a.m. She came outside with her dogs, keys and purse and saw a patch of flames on the opposite corner of the building.

“It shocked me. I thought my apartment would be fine when I first walked out and saw it,” said Springer, who works for Kansas University Facilities and Operations.

The Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross was working with the 10 people displaced by the fire, executive director Jane Blocher said. The organization is providing food, clothing and lodging to those who need it.

Anna Flores, a regional manager for Campus Apartments, said all residents were now residing in temporary hospitality quarters.

“Thank God nobody got hurt,” Springer said.

Scott Nelson, who lives in a nearby building, also said he heard a crash of thunder in the area at 6 a.m., and minutes later he heard sirens as firefighters responded.

He also said what started out as an initial patch of fire on the roof’s corner spread quickly to the center of the building.

“I definitely didn’t think it would end up like this,” Nelson said.

Springer said she was surprised to see the building was on fire at all because did not notice any smoke and didn’t hear any smoke alarms. Fire officials said that was because the location of the fire was in the attic.

“You need smoke to activate the detector, and most of the apartments were still clear of smoke while we were inside trying to fight fire in the attic area,” Division Fire Chief Joe Hoelscher said.

He said the building sustained significant fire, smoke and water damage.

“We knew we had a fire in the attic area,” Hoelscher said. “Those are very difficult because of all of the exposed lumber and plywood.”

Fire Marshal Rich Barr said insurance investigators were still trying to determine the extent of the damage and whether the building needed to be completely torn down and rebuilt or reconstructed from the first floor. The building is valued at $537,000, Barr said.

In assessing and attacking the fire Thursday morning, firefighters found little to no smoke inside the second-story units, but the flames started to spread in the attic, causing severe damage to the roof.

“We removed all of the crews, and then shortly the roof started collapsing in,” Hoelscher said. “At that point we switched to defensive operations and got our large aerial ladders up.”

Division Chief Eve Tolefree said firefighters had the blaze under control shortly after 7 a.m.

Goode said the fire destroyed nearly all of their belongings.

As she stood outside watching firefighters put out hot spots on the building, her father, Gary Goode, of Shawnee, said he was just glad everyone got out safely.

“The other stuff will be replaced,” he said.


John Spencer 8 years ago

I have a video of it from my porch.... Its just from a blackberry though.

Donald Loux 8 years ago

Building JJ was struck by lightning last night. The fire smouldered in the insulation all night and started burning a little before six. Some lady who lived in the building said that some guy came banging on all the doors around 6:00 Everybody got out safely. The burning insulation was difficult to extinguish. There were three ladder trucks pumping water onto it. The building will be a total loss although some of the contents of the bottom floor apartments might be salvageable. The roof has caved in. Some guy watching the fire said that four firefighters had smoke inhalation because their equipment was not working properly. I did not see that. That complex is jinxed.

Amy Heeter 8 years ago

How awful. I agree that place is cursed.

gsxr600 8 years ago

Get a life gilchrist.

I was wondering why I was awakened early this morning by all the sirens. Happy everyone's safe. Aberdeen is cursed. No one in their right mind should live there. The next time a tornado comes from Clinton lake, don't be surprised if Aberdeen gets it again hard. The topography of the location puts it more at risk but I'm sure that wasn't even a thought when planning to build there.

BigPrune 8 years ago

After a night of being ill and finally being able to sleep, I heard the sirens. Hopefully nobody got hurt. Is this the same building that got hit by the tornado?

madcow 8 years ago


I don't know if that building got hit, I am next door and live in a building that got tornado damage.

I was up last night when the lightning hit, and thought "that was close".

Glad everyone is safe. Hope all the pets are safe too.

mommie2boogie 8 years ago

does anyone have any pics of what the bldg looks like??????

willmiller 8 years ago

i live in kk building and omg woke at 6 sirens acomin in ...horrific. glad everyones ok

Donald Loux 8 years ago

There was no life flight. I didn't see any injured fire fighters. That was just what somebody told me. It might not be correct. I sent photos to the Journal-World. If anybody wants photos, include your e-mail address in your comment and I'll copy and paste it into my e-mail. I'll check every few hours for new addresses, so don't expect an immediate response. One of the onlookers said that the same building had been hit by the tornado.

mommie2boogie 8 years ago

thats my bro's building and he works midnights and had NO idea till i called him, i havent heard from him and i am a bit worried, anyone have pics??????

mommie2boogie 8 years ago

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

KaraGourley 8 years ago

"Did any of the firefighters or the apartment building have to be lifeflighted? Can LMH treat the firefighter's smoke inhalation or the the apartment's burns?" - roger_gilchrist

Completely unneccesary. Do you realize how many kids/wives were at home this morning getting ready to go to work and take kids to school and their dads/husbands weren't home when they normally are! So now they are off to school wondering what dads doing and hoping he's okay!


persevering_gal 8 years ago

I live over here, and the poor girl couldn't find her cat. Firefighters still don't know the cause of the damage and will have to wait until inspectors come, but I'm also assuming it was lighting. They are still putting it out, but it seems under control at the moment. Thankfully someone was walking along side of the apartment complex at the time being and pounded on the door and got the dog to wake the girl up. The fire alarms didn't go off until the fire started spreading further into other apartments.

persevering_gal 8 years ago

*sorry, I mean lightning, not lighting

willmiller 8 years ago

i went out too look around last night after the lightning strike but the rain drove me back having feelings of guilt..:(

persevering_gal 8 years ago

No worries will. It sounds like it was something that started out very slowly and gradually progressed. Everyone's OK, so that is what's important.

mommie2boogie 8 years ago

got pics from some great people on here... thank you. all i have to say is omg... wow. :(

willmiller 8 years ago

still.. i normally hunt dwn where the lightning hits and i coulda got the fire dept here sooner ... am crying.. i go to bed ev night thinking about fire cuz i live in apts and this just reinforces that feeling

gsxr600 8 years ago

Most people don't realize it's not the fire that destroys belongings, its the water. Renters insurance is a must. 10-20 bucks a month to protect all your stuff. That won't keep me up at night.

Tom Jones 8 years ago

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

thepianoman 8 years ago

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

mommie2boogie 8 years ago

I sent kuhwk80 & thepianoman what has been sent to me so far. I am so thankful everyone was okay.... I hear from my family that the firefighters found pets alive, and that the Humane Society has them. I am hoping my brother and his GF cat is there!

jcsmith 8 years ago

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

Clickker 8 years ago

"still.. i normally hunt dwn where the lightning hits and i coulda got the fire dept here sooner … am crying.. i go to bed ev night thinking about fire cuz i live in apts and this just reinforces that feeling"

Thats why I cant beleive they allow smoking in Apts. You are so much at the mercy of someone else being careless.

Amy Heeter 8 years ago

Mommie you can call the shelter to make sure the your brother's pet is there- 843-6835

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years ago

About 3 years ago, I was the first to notice a fire on Tennessee St. I was at my GF's house and it was about 12:30AM...the building next door caught fire. I had to wake everyone in the building...we ended up standing outside until 4:30AM. Many people who lived in the building with the fire were out at the bars downtown...and had pets...they didn't come home until 2:00...

Very scary if you've been in a similar situation...I'll never forget it. Hope everyone related to this story is okay.

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years ago

By the way, an unattended candle caused the one I witnessed.

Jonathan Kealing 8 years ago

All-- I took down comments with exposed e-mail addresses. You'll end up with lots of spam and possible security problems. We'll post every photo we get, or, alternatively, you can repost if you'd like people to e-mail you via our Web site with any content they have. You guys can then make arrangements. Trust me, you don't want your e-mails in these comments.

Jonathan Kealing Online editor

RoeDapple 8 years ago

Good catch Jonathan. I wondered about the possibility of abuse when I saw those earlier posts.

kansasfire911 8 years ago

“Did any of the firefighters or the apartment building have to be lifeflighted? Can LMH treat the firefighter's smoke inhalation or the the apartment's burns?” - roger_gilchrist Oh look a dead horse lets beat it.

To LDCFM: Good job brothers/sisters stay safe!

mommie2boogie 8 years ago

yes sorry mine is still up there, sorry again, was desperate for info!

jcsmith 8 years ago

I have a specific email address that I use for public posting. Its pretty much a SPAM address because I know publically posting an email address will get you spammed. So it was no big deal for me. But, thanx for caring anyway. Thanks mommie2boogie for the emails. Anyone with any other pictures/videos, please send me a private message through the site pm system and I will send my email address. I appreciate all you are willing to send me photos. Thanks again.

Sagecasey 8 years ago

Thank god for the man and his son delivering the paper this morning and rousing people out of bed. Could have been far more tragic if not for the paper delivery. The man and his son should receive a commendation for their heroic efforts.

elipse575 8 years ago

Speaking as someone who lived in these apartments a few years ago, I am surprised it didn't burn to the ground. They really weren't built very well. When I moved in they touted them as being energy efficient; I had higher utility bills there than my brother did for his 4 bedroom house. It was never warm in there in the winter. Kudos to the firefighters who worked on this one! You did a great job.

Evan Ridenour 8 years ago

Who in their right mind would live at that place now?

Buildings destroyed by a tornado and a lightning strike?


puddleglum 8 years ago

tornadoes and lightning! look out for that stuff

Momofallboys 8 years ago

 Hey there are 5 displaced families without clothes and shoes and the day to day items they need. The apartment complex has moved them to other avail apts for now but they still need clothes and what not. I called up to the leasing office to see where to donate and took a bunch of clothes. There are no children, just adults and they don't know the sizes.

 I did ask if they would donate unneeded items else where and they said they would. Please donate if you can. I'm sure it will help.

gsxr600 8 years ago

I was in a very similar situation a few years back. Lost everything in an apartment fire. I know a lot of people out there have extra things like toasters, bowls, boxed/canned food, etc that they don't use. A lot of people helped my family out by giving us things like that. Gift cards to generic places like WalMart and Hyvee help out too and go a long way. The Red Cross only has so much to give. I think the 3 of us got $450 total from them. It definitely helps but doesn't go too far. Extra help is needed.

DaniB 8 years ago

My brother and his girlfriend were two of the occupants. He called this morning and we went over there. It is pretty awful, but thank heavens everyone is okay. I was upstairs when they were asking the poor girl about her cat and what she wanted to do if they found it. I started bawling, but had to hide it because I didn't want the people to feel worse. There was also a deaf man who was affected, but his dogs woke him up. They were understandably scared, but seemed glad to get the attention from all the people treating them like heroes! It is horrible, but it could have been so much worse.

The Red Cross was also there, being awesome as usual, but I think clothes and gift cards would definitely be appreciated!

Randall Barnes 8 years ago


Reuben Turner 8 years ago

did the cat get found? just glad that no got hurt.

DaniB 8 years ago

Actually, they moved in there because it was the building where the tornado hit (he's a stormchaser and yes, he's crazy ;)

mommie2boogie 8 years ago

well speaking for my brother and his girlfriend, they both wear small medium shirts, size 30 men pants, size 4 pants for women. i dont know anyone else, luckily my brother is staying with our dad.

nnelson 8 years ago


Thanks for clearing that up. Aberdeen South, where Thursday's fire was, is the same group of apartments that was hit by the tornado in 2003. The Aberdeen apartments near Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa Drive also saw effects because it's nearby, but South saw the brunt of that storm. We've added that to the story to clear up any confusion.

Nick Nelson Web Producer

swku 8 years ago

The aparment complex is not cursed, things happen. The point is that everyone got out safely and the complex is providing the residents with a new apartment.

SWJayhawk13 8 years ago

I live two buildings down from JJ and my heart goes out to the people who lost their apartments. My apartment has multiple fire code violations (ex: defective smoke detector in my bedroom) which I have made Aberdeen management aware of, yet they haven't done anything. They've known about these issues since March, and I have told them multiple times, but they don't do anything. It's not even just this that's an issue; they (for some unknown reason) drywalled over the air vent in my bedroom (they left everything else, they just took out the vent and drywalled over it as if it had never been there); they took two months to fix my broken heater last winter; when my AC broke in the middle of August (and it was 84 degrees out), they told me to turn my AC off for the weekend; the huge growth of mold I discovered that they refused to clean for three months...and these aren't just my personal issues. Many of my neighbors have complained of almost the exact same issues, but Aberdeen won't do anything. Aberdeen's maintenance policy is non-existent.

Even if lightning hit the building, I think that there was either faulty wiring or some physical issue with the building that made the fire worse. I'm just speculating, but there was more than just a lightning strike that burnt this building down. Considering how Aberdeen handles all their other maintenance issues, I wouldn't be surprised if they screwed some things up when they hastily rebuilt building JJ. Aberdeen is a joke...their management is a joke. Way to fail, Aberdeen.

persevering_gal 8 years ago


I have some a ton of issues with my apartment as well, and there are times where I have to constantly call them. One reason for not promptly getting back to you is due to the massive amount of requests they receive and the lack of maintenance workers. Next time you need something fixed immediately and they don't get to you within a couple of days, try emailing the Campus Apartments website

The staff have been extremely friendly with me in my times of need, but yes, I agree, they can take some time to attend to you. Again, I am extremely sorry for the people who lost their homes this morning. My heart aches for those who lived there. I am glad everyone is OK otherwise.

axe 8 years ago

"Another concern I have with this story is that the earlier version mention injuries to firefighters caused by malfunctioning equipment. I predicted long ago that every major fire story would be accompanied with a comment about malfunctioning equipment. That way Lawrence fire department can justify their outrageous claims to the hard working taxpayer."

Lawrenceguy40-- I can assure you departments across the nation face equipment issues especially at major fires. This isn't some conspiracy that your LDCFM is trying to put over on you. Equipment breaks, fails etc. And not just your local FD or FD's as a whole, military, hospitals, corporations they all experience equipment failure or something similiar. But I guess if there wasn't a Fire Dept you won't have anything or anyone to bash from the comforts of your safe and protected home. I got it, why don't you pack and tent and move out into the wilderness... No, better yet move to some deserted island so all these conspiracy types, taxes and flawed systems and people won't bother you..

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