Fire destroys home on New Jersey Street; 2 residents displaced

photo by: Elvyn Jones

A Lawrence firefighter pumps water into the attic of a home at 1116 New Jersey St. shortly after noon Sunday, June 3, 2018.

Two residents have been displaced after a fire destroyed a New Jersey Street home on Sunday.

Lawrence police officers called in the fire at 1116 New Jersey St. at about 11:35 a.m. Sunday, said Justin Temple, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical division chief. When firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke coming from the attic. The residents of the house had evacuated.

There were a number of walls in the attic that hampered firefighters’ ability gain access to the fire, Temple said. Firefighters went into a defensive strategy because they were unable fight the fire from the interior of the house. Flames at one time penetrated the roof before firefighters were able to bring the fire under control at about 12:30 p.m. There were no injuries from the fire.

“It was a stubborn fire,” Temple said. “We had to pump a lot of water on it. The house is a total loss, unfortunately.”

The home’s owner, Donald Mellenbruch, said that he usually slept in his bedroom in the attic but that he fell asleep Saturday night on a couch downstairs. He said he was still asleep when his roommate woke him about 11:30 a.m. and alerted him to smoke coming from the attic.

Mellenbruch guessed that an electrical problem started the fire in the house he has owned for 35 years. He was looking for a place for his roommate to stay Sunday night and was considering his own options.

Temple said 25 firefighters from four stations responded to the fire. That allowed the department to rotate firefighters during the warm afternoon.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Temple said.


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