Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2000

Fire investigation nearing completion

September 21, 2000

State and local officials are nearing the end of a fire investigation, which began following a March 12 blaze.

Greg Dahlem, Eudora police sergeant, has been working with Kansas State Fire Marshal Dick Blevins in the investigation. Dahlem said the investigation could be completed "possibly by the end of September." It was the third fire inside the west Eudora house within two months.

Dahlem said officials are trying to determine the cause of the March 12 fire and working to determine if it was accidental.

"It could be accidental and it could be intentional," he said. "What we're trying to rule out is that it's arson.

"When you're talking about somebody's house, if we don't rule it an accidental fire we want to make sure."

To determine the factors for the blaze, items such as light switches and appliances are being examined to determine if they were faulty. Dahlem said a professor from Washington University, St. Louis, Mo., came and examined the house and the items. A weather service agency was also contacted for information of weather conditions on March 12. Officials are still awaiting the results from both experts.

Much of the delay in the investigation has been from other fire investigations statewide and medical leave of Blevins. Dahlem said though the investigation has continued slowly, Blevins' must be used for its conclusion. Blevins is one of nine fire marshals used throughout Kansas and has been working on other fires as well.

"We haven't been working on it for the last few weeks. (Blevins) has been gone for the last few weeks on sick leave," Dahlem said. "If we could have kept Blevins and I working on this from March to May, we might have had this done. But, there have been a lot of interruptions."

The house was constructed as part of the Winchester Estates development and was sold to Russell and Jill Lavin. The house has been released to the family.

Dahlem said he plans on contacting the state fire marshal's office soon to determine Blevins' condition and hopefully wrap up the investigation.

"I know that people are wondering what's going on, I know the Lavins are wondering what's going on," he said.

The Lavin's could not be reached for comment.

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