Zippo ignites Eudora blaze that kills two animals
Two apartments in a Eudora apartment complex were destroyed by a blaze that may have started when a Zippo lighter fell beneath a couch.
Five agencies responded to the fire, at the one-story Pinecrest II Apartments, 924 Walnut St. No injuries were reported, but two animals are presumed dead in the fire, which engulfed two units and threatened two more.
Eudora Fire Chief Randy Ates said a strong breeze hampered firefighters' efforts and prolonged the fire, which shot through the roof and was initially seen blocks away.
"With the way the wind's been blowing, it pushed (the fire) into the next apartment through the attic eaves," he said. Residents were evacuated from their homes by medics, which arrived on scene about 12:30 Wednesday morning. A wheelchair-bound man and his girlfriend occupied one destroyed apartment, and an elderly woman the other. The man's dog and the woman's cat were unaccounted for.
Ates said a collapsed roof in one apartment made it difficult to douse remaining hot spots, which were still popping up at 3:30 a.m.
Power was restored to the complex about 2:15, but alarm bells rang for more than an hour after that. Residents, mostly elderly people, huddled in the complex's clubhouse, dressed in pajamas, bathrobes and blankets.
Ates said there was no damage estimate yet, and he had yet to determine a cause. But a medic on the scene said a wheelchair-bound man tried to light a cigarette with a Zippo lighter that fell out of his hand and under a couch, igniting the blaze.
Resident Phillip Curley said he was awakened by emergency responders at about 1:15. He said this is the third fire at the complex he could remember since he moved there in 2001.
Fire departments from the City of Eudora, Eudora Township, Wakarusa Township and Reno Township responded to the fire, as did a medic crew from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical.