2 dogs killed in fire at tent site in North Lawrence

photo by: Journal-World File

Updated at 3:50 p.m. Thursday, May 25

Two dogs were killed Wednesday and a third was taken to a veterinary clinic after a tent fire in North Lawrence.

The Douglas County Emergency Communications Center received several calls shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday reporting smoke and fire from a wooded area near the Kansas River levee. The initial call to 911 reported dogs fighting and shots fired in a wooded area near the levee, according to a news release from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.

A short time later, firefighters were dispatched after black smoke was seen coming from the area. One of the Lawrence Police Department’s drones was in the area with a training team and reported the smoke. LDCFM crews found a tent shelter that was consumed by fire, according to the release. An LDCFM off-road utility vehicle with a water tank and hose was used to extinguish the flames, which were ultimately found just south of the 700 block of Ash in the woods off the riverbank.

Two dogs perished during the fire, and a third dog escaped and was taken to a veterinary office for evaluation. No people were harmed.

The site of the fire was not the city-run support site for those experiencing homelessness, but was east of the Kansas River bridges.

LDCFM is investigating to find the person or people responsible, the release said.

This is the second fire at a tent site in the past month. On April 24, a large fire destroyed several tents at an unsanctioned homeless camp behind the Amtrak station in East Lawrence, as the Journal-World reported.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for LDCFM, McKenzi Ezell, told the Journal-World that the origin of that fire was still under investigation but that investigators were “working through the incendiary hypothesis that was developed during the scene investigation.”

In November of last year, two dogs died in a fire at an encampment near Burcham Park. That fire was caused by stoves used for cooking and warmth that were too close to combustible materials, Division Chief Kevin Joles said at the time. Firefighters accessed that encampment, which was on the south bank of the Kansas River, through a locked gate and quickly extinguished the fire.


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