Archive for Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Firefighters respond to fire in apartment above Pickleman’s

June 19, 2012, 4:55 p.m. Updated June 19, 2012, 7:01 p.m.


Crews respond to a fire reported in the apartment above Pickleman's, 818 Mass.

Crews respond to a fire reported in the apartment above Pickleman's, 818 Mass.

David Lavender was frying catfish about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in his second-story apartment downtown when he went downstairs briefly to let a friend in a locked door.

As he came back up the stairs, he noticed heavy smoke filling the apartment.

“It was bad. I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t even try to go back in,” Lavender said.

Minutes later, Lawrence firefighters responded and began fighting the upstairs blaze in the apartment above Pickleman’s, 818 Mass.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Chief Mark Bradford said about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, as initial crews were leaving the scene, that investigators would begin trying to determine the official cause and damage estimate of the fire. He said the blaze did originate in the kitchen area of the back apartment.

The Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross was assisting Lavender and his roommate because of the damage to the apartment. Bradford said residents of a second unit upstairs would be able to remain in their apartment. Jane Blocher, executive director of the Red Cross chapter, said the agency provided food, clothing and lodging assistance to Lavender and his roommate.

The fire did not spread to any adjacent buildings, but Pickleman’s sustained some water damage, Bradford said.

One firefighter who was part of the initial attack crew was injured. He was alert when he was placed onto a stretcher about 5:15 p.m. with an apparent heat-related injury. Bradford said his injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.

No other injuries were reported.

The response to the fire caused most of the 800 block of Massachusetts Street to be blocked for several hours Tuesday evening.

Bradford said that downtown fires can present challenges because buildings are so close together and because each building is often split between commercial and residential use. It can be more difficult to tell how many people are occupying the building initially.

“Any time we have a downtown type of fire, we cringe because it will move very, very quickly,” he said.

Bradford said the department did call for assistance from a Johnson County fire crew based on the amount of calls they were handling in the city and because they were unsure how significant the downtown fire could be. The Johnson County crew made it to Lawrence but then left quickly because they were not needed, he said.

Bradford later said that crews had determined that the fire was accidental and caused $55,000 in damage.


kufan1146 5 years, 11 months ago

Drove down New Hampshire as it was (maybe still is?) happening, decent amount of smoke coming out the back windows but it didn't seem too terrible. Nothing like the house fires I've seen anyways.

werekoala 5 years, 11 months ago

Yeah but the reason this is such a big deal is that unlike a house fire, a fire in the densely packed downtown area can rip through multiple blocks before they get a stop on it. Especially on a fairly windy, dry day like today. Millions of dollars lost from our local economy in a few hours is SCARY!!!

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 11 months ago

Millions of dollars lost from our local economy in a few hours is SCARY!!! +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Makes me think of our city commission when things like the library or the empT are up for a vote.

deec 5 years, 11 months ago

The Legends et. al. is heavily taxpayer-subsidized.

pizzapete 5 years, 11 months ago

I hope everyone is ok. Good thing it wasn't a highrise apartment building, it probably would have been more difficult to control and put out.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 11 months ago

I hear Colorado and New Mexico are planning on cutting down all of it's trees to prevent forest fires as well.

riverdrifter 5 years, 11 months ago

Shows me that Dave knows how to fry fish -in very hot oil. 7/8" of hot peanut oil heated to an almost smoking temp in a cast iron chicken fryer. A good skillet is key. Dust the fish in white corn meal and cook ~2 minutes a side. Drain on a brown paper sack. Main thing is, is focus: ignore the phone and doorbell or anything else and have a box of baking soda on hand as a fire extinguisher. A pan of burning grease/oil is very dangerous and should not be removed from the stove. If it catches fire, just turn off the stove and sprinkle the baking soda in.

riverdrifter 5 years, 11 months ago

I stand corrected but I sort've thought I'd already established your point. I don't like to pile on somebody who's already had a sucky day.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 11 months ago

He left his apartment... while frying food.

Please tell me he is subject to a large fine to help cover the extremely large expense to the city his idiocy caused. There were 7-8 emergency vehicles blocking that part of Mass St because of this kid for a fairly significant amount of time.

Bob Forer 5 years, 11 months ago

Lighten up. Have you never made a mistake in your life?

JackMcKee 5 years, 11 months ago

The first time I had my own place to live I decided frying some catfish would be tasty so I loaded by the cast iron pan with oil and set the burner on high. I walked into the living room to watch a little TV while the poil heated up and heard "POOF". I turned around and flames were shooting out of the pan. Luckily I'd thought ahead and left the cover right next to the stove just in case something like that happened so I high tailed it back in the kitchen and covered the inferno with the lid. This took care of the flames, but did nothing to stop the massive amounts of smoke that were now pouring out of the once blazing oil. The smoke was filling the entire apartment so I rushed over to open a window. I barely had time to get it open because the smoke was burning my eyes. Oil fire smoke is some nasty stuff.

Robert Wells 5 years, 11 months ago

You gotta watch what you smoke. Was it Catfish??? And what or WHO was fried? Its 2012 Dave. The Myans will burn Lawrence first and then the rest of the world to prove a point! End Of The World Rocks.....

somedude20 5 years, 11 months ago

If you are above the age of 8, you know not to leave anything cooking on the stove unattended. Really, hot oil???!!!! Yes, it was a mistake but one that could have cost people their lives but now it sounds like it will just cost a lot of money. Good job Dave!

lahothan 5 years, 11 months ago

He didn't just go downstairs "briefly", he was there for a solid 15-20 minutes standing in front of his apartment door, which happens to be right in front of my store window.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.