NewsRegion Kansas


46 tenants relocated after fire at Osawatomie senior living apartments

Posted at 12:11 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 19:08:23-05

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — Nearly 50 people were pushed out into the cold as they were evacuated from their homes when a fire broke out just after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, in Osawatomie, Kansas.

One resident of Senior Living Apartments on Carr Street was Jimmy Lewis.

"The main thing I was worried about was my dog," said Lewis, who only grabbed his chihuahua, Buddy.

Lewis had just sat down to dinner when he smelled something funny.

"Like a bunch of wires burning, you know, when wires get hot," said Lewis, who actually has only lived at the complex about a month.

Wayne Dempsey lives on the second floor, where the fire started. He said he was wearing pajamas when a police officer knocked on his door during the evacuation.

"When we got outside we didn't see blazes just a lot of smoke," said Dempsey.

The city manager said it was a stove fire. The smoke went into the vent and spread damaging five units and one hallway.

When all 46 residents were evacuated they were met by community support.

They were bused by the Life Care Center and school district to the auditorium.

The firefighter's wives, fondly calling themselves the Osawatomie Fire Wives, grabbed supplies like socks, blankets, food and water. They passed it out to those in need.

"It didn't take us very long to figure out what to do," said Loree Love, president of the Fire Wives. 

Sonic and Pizza Hut also donated food.

The Fire Wives said some of the people were disoriented or upset, and they wanted to talk with everyone.

"I think all of them knew people were here to help," said Erica Kriesel, Fire Wife.

The city manager said right now sprinklers are being tested, and they are making sure fire alarms and everything else is up to code.

It is too soon to say when people will be able to move back into their units. In the meantime, the Red Cross is providing assistance and many people are staying in a hotel.

The Life Care Center opened up its west end for those who need routine medical care or a place to stay.

Firefighters from Paola and Fontana fire departments also assisted.

No one was hurt in the fire.

Many apartments could open by noon Monday. Anyone trying to get personal items should do so by 5 p.m. Friday.

Authorities found several pets as well as recovered residents’ medications. Those medications were taken to Schrader Insurance, 526 Main St., and can be collected there after 2 p.m. Wednesday. 

Residents needing to claim their pets should call the police department at 913-755- 2101.