Car blaze under investigation
A burning car in front of the apartments at 5210 10th St. Monday morning was suspicious in nature, Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano said. The state fire marshal is expected to investigate as soon as weather permits.
The fire was reported at 6:41 a.m. Monday. In addition to destroying the car, it caused $2,000 to the apartment.
As the fire truck was turning into the alley to get to the fire, it hit something in the alley. Napolitano said the accident caused minor damage to the truck, which was back in service later in the morning.
Leesa Maupin and her 16-year-old son Lucas stood barefoot in the snow Friday night as Great Bend firefighters attempted to save their home.
The fire at 207 Plum St. caused more than $15,000 to a home Maupin said was uninsurable. Three dogs and two puppies also died.
The fire was attributed to an electrical overload. Firefighters were called at 8:53 p.m. Friday, after Maupin went back into her smoky bedroom to retrieve her cell phone. After that, they waited for what seemed like ages. “My son kept trying to drag me out of the house; I kept trying to go back in,” she said, adding she doesn’t remember what she was thinking.
Over the weekend, Maupin and relatives worked to restore order to her life. The fire inspector told her the house could be repaired, but she isn’t sure. She owns a mobile home that she bought from her mother, but it won’t be ready to move into immediately. “It has electrical issues,” she said. She hopes the kitchen appliances from the house will work, but the mobile home needs an electric water heater.
A mother of six, Maupin has two sons still at home. One is 20 years old with special needs. Although relatives have provided a place for Maupin and the two sons to stay, she spent one night sleeping in her vehicle in front of her house. That was after running off a looter who said he assumed the scorched house was abandoned. “I’m just devastated that people would take what I have left,” she said.
It’s not like there’s much. Christmas presents were destroyed. The Paula Deen pots and pans, purchased last November at a bargain price and given to Maupin, were ruined.
“I’m so scared,” Maupin said, confiding that her friends and resources are limited and she isn’t sure where to turn for help. She has a part-time job with LINK (Living Independently in Northwest Kansas) that pays less than $500 a month, and she and her sons receive disability benefits. Last year she was a victim of identity theft, which put more strain on her resources.
So far, a minister has offered to pay the first month’s rent on a storage unit where Maupin can keep her salvaged belongings. As she described how one relative offered to give up his family’s income tax return, Maupin teared up, knowing that the family has its own needs.
“It’s not like I want lots of money from people,” she said. “I don’t expect people to give me bunches of money.” But she would be grateful for small gifts from any who could spare them — the water heater being one of the most pressing needs — and for helping hands as she works on the cleanup and move. No fund has been set up as of Monday afternoon, but Maupin said people can contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or send conventional mail to the home address, 207 Plum St., Great Bend, KS 67530.
Other fire calls
Firefighters responded to a structure fire at 5:42 p.m. Friday at McDonald Tank, located near at the airport 8823 Sixth St., when a chemical reaction caused cardboard and fiberglass waste in a trash container to ignite. Fire Chief Mike Napolitano said there was slight damage was caused by the sprinkler system going off before the fire trucks arrived, but added, “It saved the building.” The fire caused less than $2,500 in damage.
Firefighters also performed a carbon monoxide check at 9:23 p.m. Friday at 151 NE 40 Ave. CO was present in the building and the owner called a service company to fix the problem.
Firefighters made eight ambulance runs for the shift starting last Friday, six Saturday and six Sunday.