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Archive for Friday, August 3, 2012

25 years ago: Fire chief speaks on troubling fire trend

August 3, 2012

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Aug. 3, 1987:

  • Lawrence Fire Chief Jim McSwain said today that he was concerned over a series of fires in abandoned buildings. The most recent blaze had been "the third fire like this we have had in that area in the last several months," said McSwain. "All three times people were there saying there could be people in there because it was used by transient-type people. It is not only dangerous for them, but obviously those structures are dangerous to firefighters who are trying not only to fight the fire, but protect lives." The latest fire had been in a small abandoned building in the woods near Sixth and New York streets; the shed had later been reported to have been located over an old well, increasing the danger for firefighters. Other such fires had occurred in late December at 704 New York and in February on East 11th Street at the site of an old World War II prisoner of war camp. The 11th Street fire had been attributed to a homemade fireplace constructed by homeless individuals trying to keep warm. The chief pointed out that city ordinances required that abandoned properties be secured to prevent unauthorized entry. "It's a problem we're seeing occur more often," McSwain said.
  • In other fire news, a ban had been placed on the burning of trash and fields as the Douglas County Commission today authorized a one-week "state of local disaster emergency." Recent 100-degree weather and a lack of rain had increased the "threat of disaster," according to representatives of the area fire chiefs' association, who had made a report to the commission.

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