Archive for Friday, December 7, 2012

Early-morning apartment fire linked to recent arsons

December 7, 2012, 8:02 a.m. Updated December 7, 2012, 7:43 p.m.


Emergency crews responded to a fire call early Friday morning in a south central Lawrence that has been the site of a string of suspected arsons dating back to October.

Crews responded at about 2:30 a.m. to a fire in the 1800 block of W. 25th Street, according to Lawrence Police Department records.

Mike Frizzell of Operation 100 News, the Journal-World's news partner, said emergency dispatch scanner traffic indicted that crews quickly extinguished a small fire in a stairwell at an apartment complex at 1809 W. 25th Street.

No injuries were reported.

Following the fire, police and fire crews set up a perimeter in the area, searching for a potential suspect. The Douglas County Jail booking log does not show any arson-related arrests from that time.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Chief Mark Bradford confirmed the details about the fire, and added later in a press release that the fire was being investigated in connection with the recent arsons.

Since Oct. 19, more than a dozen small fires have been set in and around apartment buildings in an area near 23rd Street south to 25th Street and from Iowa east to Naismith Drive.

Many of those fires have occurred in laundry rooms or hallways of apartment complexes. The fires have also been set inside of apartment complexes where exterior doors to the buildings are not locked. Fire officials suspect the fires have been intentionally set, but have not released any more information.

The two most recent fires in the area have fit the general pattern of the recent suspected arsons occurred Nov. 22 and Nov. 25.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is now offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who has information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for a series of suspected arsons in south central Lawrence.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical at 785-830-7065, the Lawrence Police Department at 785-830-7430 or the TIPS Hotline at 785-843-TIPS (8477).

Google Map

Map of recent suspected arsons

View Recent suspected arson cases map in a larger map

Public safety officials say there have been a series of intentionally set fires at apartment complexes in this area of Lawrence since Oct. 19.


Hooligan_016 5 years, 2 months ago

Hope they catch this jackhole soon and put them away. I haven't heard anything about neighborhood leaders or groups getting together or organizing some kind of watch program to look for suspicious activity. I know I wouldn't want to be putting up with this crap anymore if I were in that neighborhood.

gossipgirl785 5 years, 2 months ago

First of all if you don't live in the neighborhood then you probably wouldn't understand why walking around it is probably not a good idea! I live on Redbud, I know! But if several of us got together then that would be a different story except that it would only be safe during the day and if we went knocking on peoples doors then we could interupt the drug deals, prostitutes or the drug addicts and I dont think they would take too kindly to this. The fire department came around a few days ago and handed out cards with contact info and $2500.00 reward information. I thought it was a very nice thing for them to do. And I am sure people are right about how old the buildings are and the fire walls, probably non existant. And for all that question, I am a hard working single mother that lives in an apartment that I can afford, not because I like the neighborhood! We just have to make good choices and make sure we are in by dark. SMH

50YearResident 5 years, 2 months ago

I didn't know the neighborhood was unsafe to be out after dark. I Also had not heard about prostitution in the area. Too bad everyone has to be in before dark. Sounds like living in East St Louis or KC, Ks. Good Luck!

gossipgirl785 5 years, 2 months ago

Take a ride down the block after dark some night. The picnic tables that the landlords put out this summer to try to make it nice (which we enjoy and thank you) started to become home for 3-5 regular prostitutes. We could watch our own private version of cops. They would get picked up and dropped back off a few minutes later by several customers. Some of the cars where very nice, I even seen a beautiful black mercedes a few times picking up the same girl, one time I seen a red porsch. These girls would bring a bag of ice and beer or alcohol and just sit there all night long. Called the police and they would make them leave but within the hour they would be back. The other day I had a younger man approach me and my kids asking to sell a porno to us for $2. In front of the kids this POS asked me this. You really wouldn't believe it sometimes over here. I know the Police try very hard but .....

midwestmom 5 years, 2 months ago

I've often thought about the fire safety of these complexes. They are old. They are generally low-ish rentals - just how well are they maintained? Hopefully, the fire department has thoroughly checked their smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc. Do they have the fire rated walls between units?

I've never forgotten the Boardwalk tragedy and worry that this disturbed person is going to end up committing murder.

Shaun, is the Journal World looking at any of this? I'd love to read an article on what steps are being taken to keep residents safe. I KNOW ATF, LPD and Douglas County Fire are working hard to catch the arsonist...

Hooligan_016 5 years, 2 months ago

"I've never forgotten the Boardwalk tragedy and worry that this disturbed person is going to end up committing murder."

That really is the scariest component of these fires. It could easily escalate into another tragedy

Shaun Hittle 5 years, 2 months ago

We haven't had any response from the apartments when we've made inquiries. But we'll keep trying.

Shaun LJW

somebodynew 5 years, 2 months ago

Good luck with that Shaun. I know you will try, but trying to get any of those owners to comment on stuff will be difficult. If you have ever been in some of them you will understand why. They are not all this way, but some of them are as bad as the one the City closed down the other week. Firewalls probably were not heard of when these were constructed and smoke alarm ??? I hope they catch him/her very quickly.

midwestmom 5 years, 2 months ago

Oops - I meant to reply under Shaun....

cozborn 5 years, 2 months ago

they did, had me check my fire alarm also.

kernal 5 years, 2 months ago

LJW has posted notice of a reward being offered in other situations, so seems to me they would have done so for these arsons IF a reward had been setup.

I'm wondering what the landlords liabilities are in all of this since they obviously know by now there's an arsonist(s) on the loose and there are no security cameras in those apartments. And, I'm pretty sure they're not paying for any security patrols like some other complexes do.

I feel bad for some of the students who rented there because it's cheap or they didn't know how bad that neighborhood is. I would hope the landlords will let them out of their leases at the end of this year, if those students can find other places to live. Student legal services can advise.

riverdrifter 5 years, 2 months ago

Covert security cameras will catch this d-bag and they don't cost that much.

alakazam 5 years, 2 months ago

OK, i live near there actually and at around 9:30-10:00 i hear a woman yelling at someone, i couldnt hear it clearly at first but this woman was scraming for someone "to get the hell out of her house and take their s*** and leave and dont come back." it sounded bad i almost called the non emergency line but meddling in stuff like that worries me. I don't wanna put myself in harms way by caling in and the police coming to my house asking questions and that puts me at risk.. Oh and not to mention the news van has been here in the neighborhood all day and it's rather annoying because the police presence is making me a tad worried because other complexes close could be a target. I also find it very funny that a fire was started in the complex that is

somebodynew 5 years, 2 months ago

"....meddling in stuff like that worries me. I don't wanna put myself in harms way ...."

Yes, and attitudes like that is what get people killed. Maybe a little fire in your building might make you think "meddling" isn't all that bad. Sad, just very sad.

Oh, not that you probably care, but if you call the non-emergency line you actually can stay anonymous and don't have to worry about all those big mean police coming to your house asking questions.

local_support 5 years, 2 months ago

Clearly the terrified person that you are belittling does care about this issue. But the risk they are most likely referring to is the possibility of one of their criminal neighbors witnessing them speaking with law enforcement. Since criminals are generally not that intelligent, they may draw the conclusion that someone is "snitching." Next thing you know Alakazam and family end up on the wrong end of a drug dealer's shotgun.

Anonymously reporting suspicious activity in the area is a great solution though. Really hope they catch this person before someone gets hurt. Then maybe next they can try and clean up the area as a whole, although cheap rent tends to attract riff-raff no matter what.

somebodynew 5 years, 2 months ago

While I do understand that l_s, this is excately how things have gotten to the point where there are never any witnesses and criminal feel emboldened to do what they want. I don't think this has anything to do with the fires though.

There are always ways to report things and sometime you have to be brave enough to stand up. Otherwise you always live in fear and the bad-guys win. Next time it might be you or yours the criminal goes after and then you are wondering why "nobody saw nuthin'".

gossipgirl785 5 years, 2 months ago


workinghard 5 years, 2 months ago

Would like to point out that a few of these fires have occurred at properties owned by Cedarwood. Cedarwood also had a fire in 2009 said to be caused by improper disposal of cigarettes. Hmmm.

alakazam 5 years, 2 months ago

i know the police has been by a bit and someone distributed the TIPS cards regarding the fires i found one on my door

bearded_gnome 5 years, 2 months ago

LarryNative 2 hours, 13 minutes ago

Easy there Big Brother, this is Lawrence Ks and nobody has the right to put up cameras to help stop criminal activity.

---uh Lar, were you being sarcastic about lawrence liberals, or serious and you got your law degree from corn flakes boxtops?

it's perfectly legal to put in ones own security cameras. if these slum/scumlords had any care, they'd have already done this.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 2 months ago

one of the early fires in this series came so dangerously close to harming someone I know. it destroyed so much of her belongings and those of another young lady who was displaced.

we are fortunate that no one has been harmed thus far, so very fortunate.

I sincerely hope that the guy pulling this is caught and strung up for a long time!

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