Archive for Thursday, July 5, 2012

Evacuation lifted for homes near Langston Hughes school in west Lawrence after large grass fire

July 5, 2012, 10:35 a.m. Updated July 5, 2012, 5:52 p.m.

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Lawrence firefighters had their hands full Thursday morning — and called in extra personnel — to fight a grass and brush fire west of Langston Hughes Elementary School. The fire threatened both the school and nearby houses. This view is looking west near the 6200 block of Palisades Drive.

Lawrence firefighters had their hands full Thursday morning — and called in extra personnel — to fight a grass and brush fire west of Langston Hughes Elementary School. The fire threatened both the school and nearby houses. This view is looking west near the 6200 block of Palisades Drive.

Firefighters work to prevent the spread of a brush and grass fire Thursday morning that threatened Langston Hughes Elementary School and nearby homes on Palisades Drive. The firefighter in the background is wetting down roofs, while the two in the foreground are trying to create a barrier of water between the fire and the homes.

Firefighters work to prevent the spread of a brush and grass fire Thursday morning that threatened Langston Hughes Elementary School and nearby homes on Palisades Drive. The firefighter in the background is wetting down roofs, while the two in the foreground are trying to create a barrier of water between the fire and the homes.

Online submitted photo of grass fire near Langston Hughes Elementary School.

Online submitted photo of grass fire near Langston Hughes Elementary School.

Picture submitted via Twitter of grass fire threatening homes near Langston Hughes School in Lawrence on George Williams Way. Photo is from a backyard in 1000 block of Stonecreek Drive.

Picture submitted via Twitter of grass fire threatening homes near Langston Hughes School in Lawrence on George Williams Way. Photo is from a backyard in 1000 block of Stonecreek Drive.

UPDATE, 5:45 p.m.:

A squirrel caused the fire, said Lawrence Douglas County Fire-Medical division chief Eve Tolefree. It somehow caused a spark from a power line, which ignited the vegetation the spark fell onto.

Investigators don't yet know cost of the fire.

1:35 p.m. STORY:

A large brush and grass fire west of Langston Hughes Elementary School that threatened homes Thursday morning has been contained and the evacuation order for homes in the area has been lifted, according to Lawrence Police Sgt. Trent McKinley. No injuries or damage to homes was reported.

The fire began about 10:25 a.m. Thursday, east of Kansas Highway 10 near the area where Bob Billings Parkway dead-ends, McKinley said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Around 12:45 p.m., Division Chief Eve Tolefree, a Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical spokeswoman, said the fire had been contained and residents were being allowed back into their homes.

The fire, which rapidly moved north, also had threatened nearby Langston Hughes, McKinley said. The school is closed for the summer, and no programs were underway in that building, according to Julie Boyle, the school district’s spokeswoman.

Erik Haden, building operator for Langston Hughes, was in the building when the fire was initially reported. He ran outside of the building and saw the massive flames nearby.

About five or six people were inside the school, and he ran back inside to make sure they left the school grounds.

"I've never seen anything like this before, this close to the building," he said.

Haden gave credit to the emergency responders for their rapid and effective response.

"They contained it pretty quickly," he said. "They did a heck of a job, that's for sure. I'm just glad everybody's safe."

Witnesses reported that the fire initially had flames that shot as high as several nearby tall trees and spread rapidly to the north.

Firefighters positioned themselves around nearby houses and were able to prevent the fire from reaching the properties.

"It kindled pretty well with the wind," Tolefree said, adding that fire crews tried to read the wind and the positions the dry kindling in the area to prevent the fire from spreading.

Residents of homes in the 6200 block of Palisades Drive were evacuated, Tolefree said, though many weren't home at the time of the fire.

Scott Reinardy, who lives on Palisades Drive, saw the fire behind his home and began hosing down his back yard, as several of his neighbors were doing. Reinardy soon was told to evacuate.

“I grabbed a garbage bag and started throwing things in it,” he said.

Members of the Kanwaka, Wakarusa, Lecompton and Willow Springs township fire departments responded, and crews received assistance from the Olathe and Lenexa fire departments. Crews were helping to put out hotspots Thursday afternoon in the swath of burned land that stretched from Bob Billings Parkway to just south of Palisades Drive.

Check LJWorld.com for updates as they become available.

Langston Hughes brush fire

Lawrence firefighters had their hands full and called for extra help in fighting a brush fire west of Langston Hughes Elementary School on Thursday morning. Enlarge video

Comments

SuperDuper2 3 years, 2 months ago

Could someone please post some pictures? Thanks.

middlemgmt 3 years, 2 months ago

Im about a mike away and watching from my deck. Looks like it's spreading fast.

shaunepec 3 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for the photo.

Shaun Hittle LJW reporter

Jon Francis 3 years, 2 months ago

I would post a picture but I can't seem to figure out how.

MarcoPogo 3 years, 2 months ago

Save the picture to your hard drive, then upload it by selecting the file using the "Browse" function. (You will have to locate the picture file on your hard drive.)

SuperDuper2 3 years, 2 months ago

A link maybe. I don't know. Thanks for trying.

DeMontfort 3 years, 2 months ago

Where's the Fox4 news chopper when you need it?

Rob Zerwekh 3 years, 2 months ago

We haven't had a helicopter since 2008, when the parent company decided to sell it. I'm sure the other stations are en route, though.

DeMontfort 3 years, 2 months ago

Did not know that. Thanks for the update.

domino 3 years, 1 month ago

Fox4 didn't own the chopper - they leased it - their contract ran out around August 2009 and they grounded it at that time.

formerlyanonymous 3 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for posting this story as soon as it began....I was able to go help evacuate an elderly relative. Thanks also to the officers who were carefully going door to door to make sure everybody made it out of the neighborhood!

JulianaScorsese 3 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone know if they are evacuating beyond Palisades Drive, like on Diamondhead or Coving Streets?

DeMontfort 3 years, 2 months ago

From Twitter 21 minutes ago:

City of Lawrence KS ‏@lawrenceks

Recommended evacuation of homes north of Palisdes - this includes Andrew John Drive, Blue Nile, Diamondhead & Coving. #LawrenceFire

SuperDuper2 3 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for the pics. I'm sure there are some people over on K10 over by the fireworks stand that can take a picture. Thanks.

jpgs 3 years, 2 months ago

Photo from Langston Hughes taken about 10:45.

Wide shot from LH parking lot

Wide shot from LH parking lot by jpgs

Closeup from Langston Hughes

Closeup from Langston Hughes by jpgs

MarchSadness 3 years, 2 months ago

Wow! Great pics. I hope they can get it contained soon.

SuperDuper2 3 years, 2 months ago

Might change the story title to say something other than 'grass fire'. Those cedar trees are going up fast.

Jon Francis 3 years, 2 months ago

Behind Langston Hughes

behind Langston Hughes

behind Langston Hughes by Jon Francis

JackMcKee 3 years, 2 months ago

If we don't get some rain, and by some I mean a LOT, this is going to be an ongoing problem this Summer. Vegetation that hasn't been watered is tinderbox dry.

SuperDuper2 3 years, 2 months ago

Much less smoke and ashes flying around now. One resident that stayed in the neighborhood said it appears none of the houses or yards were damaged. Thank goodness! I hope they keep soaking it.

Susan Rickman 3 years, 2 months ago

It might be time for that burn ban, now.

SuperDuper2 3 years, 2 months ago

They are spraying water behind the houses that back up to the cedars. I needed my yard watered, just not in this desperate way.

John Spencer 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't really understand why this is not 'Breaking News'. Lives could be in danger, millions of dollars of property damage could take place, hundreds of city and county resource hours are going to be used. One of those breaking news email alerts could have gone out.

Clevercowgirl 3 years, 2 months ago

I agree. My husband called me about this, and I was amazed that this wasen't posted as a Breaking News story. Really JW?

50YearResident 3 years, 1 month ago

Breaking News is only for basketball players when they get drafted into the NBA, didn't you know that?

abostonaccent 3 years, 2 months ago

We live southwest of the fire, behind CC. Wondering if this didn't have anything to do with the power surge/ outage at just after 10 am?

DeMontfort 3 years, 2 months ago

What is "CC"? (Not familiar with westside lingo!)

John Spencer 3 years, 2 months ago

I live in the area, and I am not sure what CC is either.

DDD1888 3 years, 2 months ago

CC means Corpus Christi church, down the street from Langston Hughes right past the intersection of George Williams Way and Bob Billings.

sickofdummies 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm sure this poster is referring to 'Corpus Christi Church. Other than Langston Hughes, its the biggest building in this area.

kernal 3 years, 2 months ago

If it is, there are probably some kids who are shaking in their shoes about now.

JHawker 3 years, 2 months ago

CC is probably Corpus Chrisi. Glad to hear the fire is out and no houses were damaged!

fanofKU 3 years, 2 months ago

We watched this from our deck, as we live two blocks east of Langston Hughes. The flames, at times, were shooting higher than the trees and utility poles! It was an amazing sight. The number of cars that came down Harvard just to see this fire was totally outrageous. Fire trucks were trying to get through and we have people who want to see the fire! There hasn't been that kind of traffic on Harvard in the 5 years we've lived here. Big thanks to the Lawrence Fire Department on their quick response at getting the fire out!

Paula Kissinger 3 years, 1 month ago

Big thanks to the township fire departments who can get right up to the fire where the city cannot.

formerlyanonymous 3 years, 2 months ago

Can I suggest that in the future the city put something onto their website or onto the fire-medical website or any other type of place where people can check online?

SuperDuper2 3 years, 2 months ago

Thanks to the Lawrence Fire Dept. If not for the quick response a few homes would have gone for sure and then because they would have focused their efforts on the homes the fire would have spread uncontrollably and a lot more houses, including mine, would have gone up.

paisley 3 years, 1 month ago

Scary enough for sure. I' m glad everything seems to be okay now. This kind of thing happens in California ALOT! Once on Camp Pendleton, about the width of a four lane street, the hill, behind base housing went up in flames. It moved fast and furious and even some old ammo was exploding. No one was hurt though and no housing was damaged but the smoke and the ash floating around the next day was horrific!

kansasfire911 3 years, 1 month ago

Stay safe brothers! You might wanna take your coat and SCBA off.

kernal 3 years, 1 month ago

After looking at the site on Google, it's likely this was caused either by some idiot(s) shooting firecrackers or some idiot tossing a cigarette out the window of a vehIcle on K10.

People REALLY need to stop throwing cigarettes out their car windows no matter what the weather. If you need a cigarette that bad, pull over or wait until you reach your destination.

Whodathunk 3 years, 1 month ago

Squirrels should NOT be allowed to smoke cigarettes!

chemmom 3 years, 1 month ago

A big thank you to all of the fire departments involved in the response. Eudora Township also responded even though they were not mentioned in the article. Fighting brush/forest fires in this kind of heat is absolutely grueling and takes a physical toll on the responders. Kudos to a rapid and successful response and containment of the fire. Very thankful that there was no loss of property and everyone is home safe.

KJDLHS89 3 years, 1 month ago

Glad this was brought under control quickly. As a former resident (born & raised there) of Lawrence, & current resident of Colorado Springs-it was a relief to see this taken care of before any homes were threatened!!

Lisa Medsker 3 years, 1 month ago

Have a sister in Co Sprngs who was evacuated during the Waldo Canyon fire. They're back, everything except the strawberry plants and soot on the siding was unaffected. Have a lot of family history in Manitou, Crystola and Woodland Park, too!

SO glad nobody here lost life or property, and hopefully, you also fared well in the recent fires in your area! May you stay safe for the rest of the season!

KJDLHS89 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes, we were fine. We live on the east side of town.....although we kept friends evacuated last Tuesday night...

blindrabbit 3 years, 1 month ago

Lucky the fire did not get full-blown in the cedars west and north of the school. If it had it would have gone to K-10 and US 40 pronto.. The robinswould be looking for new roosts this Fall.

Eric Boedeker 3 years, 1 month ago

For those blaming this on kids or a cigarrette, you may want to reserve judgement until we know more. I work a few blocks away and one of those houses in danger was mine. We had a loss of power where I work right at the time this started. Seems like there could have been a transformer blow or something much less irresponsible.

Windemere 3 years, 1 month ago

The article mentions it started at the end of 15th, where it deadends. In that spot, road/work crews have been using the area for keeping what looks like gravel, don't know what else. Seen trucks coming & going a lot in past few months. Worker may have tossed a butt. Or could have been a k10 driver. Fireworks? Maybe. Hate people who toss out butts!

CHEEZIT 3 years, 1 month ago

Thats funny right there I don"t care who you are!

BringBackMark 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh No! Now the Commissioners will have to develop a Squirrel ban!

SilenceDogood 3 years, 1 month ago

Had I been the homeowner who was hosing down his house/backyard when he was asked to leave, I am not so sure I would have complied. Just saying...

riverdrifter 3 years, 1 month ago

Word is, a squirrel done it. They are the bane of the power grid's existance.

Eric Boedeker 3 years, 1 month ago

I was one of the homeowners trying to dowse my house and was threatened with arrest if I didn't leave.

SilenceDogood 3 years, 1 month ago

It would be interesting to see what legal basis law enforcement would have claimed had you been arrested.

Eric Boedeker 3 years, 1 month ago

I didn't stick around to find out, but I'm curious to what really is legal in a situation like this. Some neighbors were allowed to stay, but I had to leave. I know that's a no-no, but can they even demand I leave my property at all?

BringBackMark 3 years, 1 month ago

The People's Republic of Lawrence is not to be messed with.

kernal 3 years, 1 month ago

Need to tell the squirrels to quit tap dancing on the power lines before it leads to this:

http://www.greysquirrel.net/lap.html

kuguardgrl13 3 years, 1 month ago

Isn't that what the West Campus mountain lion is for?

CHEEZIT 3 years, 1 month ago

Although the situation was serious Channel 6's reporting was humourous. Reporter talks about the devastation and the video shows a bunch of evergreen trees with some of the bottoms burnt off. Almost looked normal!!!

monkeywrench1969 3 years, 1 month ago

erock

I know they are saying it is a squirrel that did this, but why would you want to limit people's right to use common sense and reason to speculate to what caused this. It was a day after the fourth, people shoot off fireworks after the fourth, it seemed to start near the 15th and K10 area so maybe someone did toss a cig out of their car and it hit the grass.

Normally I am not about the conspiracy theory guys throwing out their internet blog spot supported ideas (although very entertaining and seemingly a first amendment protected right), but those stating it could have been fireworks or cigs seem logical and not really a rush to judgement. It sounds more like sour grapes because someone else got to stay in their house and you didn't

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