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Posted on: November 22, 2017

Update on Tuesday fire at Osawatomie Court

Osawatomie city officials are working with building management to determine how soon residents can return to their homes following a fire Tuesday evening at Osawatomie Court, a senior apartment complex.

The blaze, which was reported at 5:33 p.m., displaced 46 residents, but no one was injured.

This afternoon, Osawatomie City Manager Don Cawby said building management officials were currently inspecting the facility’s sprinkler and alarm systems to determine whether they were damaged during the blaze. Although both systems were reportedly intact and working following the fire, officials wanted to confirm they were operating properly. Certification of both systems, they said, were up to date at the time of the fire.

“The city is currently working with building management to make sure the building is safe,” Cawby said. “We want to do what we can to help residents get back into the building as quickly as they can, but we also want to make sure it is safe.”

Building management officials said today residents can enter the building with a key card to gather their clothing and other essential items they may need while being displaced, but that they may need to coordinate with them when on site. Triangle Builders, of Paola, is assisting with the clean-up efforts, which could start as early as today.

According to plans shared with city building officials this afternoon, a large number of apartments could mostly likely be open by noon Monday. But to do that, the building will be locked down Saturday and Sunday to begin restoration efforts. Residents needing to remove any additional items should do so by 5 p.m. Friday.

Tuesday’s fire began in the kitchen area of a second-floor apartment in the east wing of the complex.

Within minutes, Osawatomie police officers arrived, and extinguished the fire on the cooktop. Local firefighters, who were also on the scene, determined the fire had spread into the wall. Black smoke could also be seen coming from the roof of the building.

Osawatomie Fire Chief Brian Love called for a total evacuation of the building, and requested additional resources, including assistance from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office and three school buses to help with evacuation efforts. Medical staff from Life Care Center of Osawatomie was also asked to respond to the City Auditorium to help residents being transported there.

Love said the evacuation effort took approximately 10 minutes. By 10 p.m., those displaced were lodged in a hotel, staying with family or being housed at Life Care Center.

Other assistance was provided by the Paola and Fontana fire departments. The Paola Fire Department provided additional personnel, who assisted with fire suppression and evacuation efforts. The department also provided ladder and engine trucks. The Fontana Fire Department helped with fire suppression and ventilation efforts by providing additional firefighters and two trucks.

Located at 405 Carr Ave., the complex has 54 units – eight of those were vacant at the time of the blaze. Most of the apartment units are located on the west side of the building. Another 24 are on the east side of the complex.

Officials said four units were extensively damaged and could take some time before they can be occupied. The entire east portion of the building has some degree of water damage, Love said, adding the entire building received smoke damage.  

Representatives with the American Red Cross assisted residents Tuesday night, and were in town today to offer further assistance to those who will be displaced for a longer period of time. 

During evacuation efforts, authorities retrieved several pets as well as recovered the medications of several residents. Those medications were taken to Schrader Insurance, 526 Main St., and can be collected there after 2 p.m. today. Residents needing to claim their pets should call the police department at 913-755-2101.

 - With the fire coming in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the Osawatomie Volunteer Fire Department and the City of Osawatomie are hosting a Thanksgiving meal for those residents displaced by the blaze. The dinner is planned for 6 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Osawatomie, 504 W. Pacific Ave. The meal will be served in the church basement.

Media questions should be directed to Osawatomie City Manager Don Cawby at 913-755-1944 or Osawatomie Fire Chief Brian Love at 913-731-4370.

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City of Osawatomie 439 Main St. Osawatomie, KS 66064 Ph: 913-755-2146 Fx: 913-755-4164