Archive for August, 2013

Oxygen tank explosion cause of fire

By Earl Watt
Liberal Leader & Times – August 30, 2013

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A fire that destroyed a mobile home at the Oklahoma state line was caused by an oxygen bottle explosion, according to the fire Beaver County Fire Marshal.

“The fire marshal did his investigation at 7 p.m. last night,” Beaver County Sheriff Reuben Parker, Jr., said. “He is sure it had something to do with oxygen bottles.”

The ignited bottle started a fire that consumed the home of Curtis and Lori Phillips. The fire resulted in a total loss.

The couple were severely burned in the fire and were transferred to the Via Christi Burn Center in Wichita.

Parker said there were several ways the oxygen bottle could have exploded.

“An open flame, a cigarette, a gas stove, or if the oxygen is running and the mask is off, and it fills the room with oxygen, something as simple as a heater kicking on could ignite it,” he said.

The Turpin and Seward County fire departments responded to the scene and doused the flames, but earlier this morning Turpin returned to the scene to discharge hot spots that had reignited.

Curtis Phillips was not conscious this morning in the intensive care center on life support, and Lori Phillips was in and out of consciousness but unable to speak due to medical equipment providing air to her lungs according to the victim’s brother Larry Phillips.


A house fire that completely destroyed a mobile home near the Oklahoma state line on Highway 83 Wednesday afternoon has claimed the life of Curtis Phillips while Lori Phillips clings to life at the Via Christi Burn Center in Wichita.

Curtis Phillips, 58, sustained third degree burns on 66 percent of his body and suffered severe burns to his lungs.

Phillips was being maintained on life support Thursday until medical staff informed his brother Larry Phillips and sister Joy Beasley that recovery was not possible.

Phillips was removed from life support and died within the hour.

He had no children.

“When I saw Curtis sitting on the back of a truck while his house was on fire, I thought he would make it,” Larry Phillips said. “But once they got him there and removed the damaged skin and scoped his lungs, it was too late.”

Larry Phillips, the managing editor of the Leader & Times, responded to a scanner call to cover a fire at the state line not knowing the house was that of his brother.

He arrived to see the house engulfed in flames but his brother and common law wife outside. The couple had been removed by onlookers minutes before the entire house was consumed in flames.

The couple was transported to Southwest Medical Center and later flown to the Wichita burn center.

“We were positive that night,” Larry Phillips said. “They were trying everything they could, keeping his blood pressure up, his heart beating. He was on a ventilator — on life support.”

But the next morning, after doctors had a chance to evaluate the severity, the decision was made that the injuries were too severe for recovery.

“Several doctors came in and social workers, told us that recovery was not possible,” Phillips said.

As immediate family, Phillips and Beasley had to make the decision.

“Naturally, it was heartbreaking,” Phillips said “In this business, I have heard about it from friends and strangers, but it is an ordeal when it is your decision to make. We decided to shut down everything except pain medication. Within the hour, he died.”

Lori Phillips showed better signs for a possible recovery. She only had second degree burns on 9.5 percent of her body, and the damage to her lungs was not as severe.

“She had inhalation and tissue damage,” Larry Phillips said. “They were able to use a saline solution and flush some of the debris out. She is a part of the family, and we are praying for her.”

Curtis Phillips was transported back to Liberal for an autopsy. He was then cremated. A funeral service time has yet to be determined.

Child suffers minor injuries in early-morning school bus crash

By John Boyd
KWCH – August 30, 2013

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A school bus carrying ten students was involved in a crash near Haysville Friday morning.

Emergency crews were called to 79th Street South and Seneca, where the Sheriff’s Office tells us a bus was headed east and failed to yield to a vehicle on Seneca.

The bus, which was carrying students in the Mulvane school district, turned in front of the other car and was struck.

One child suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

The driver was cited for failing to yield the right-of-way.

Following instructions for rescue

Ellis Review – August 22, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – August 30, 2013

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Dustin Vine of the Ellis Volunteer Fire Department gives instructions to Tim Kohlrus, Jim Metzler (both of the EVFD) and Kammie Weber (Victoria Fire Dept.) as they prepare a rescue drill near the Ellis Recycling Center. The drill was held Saturday, and was a training opportunity for the Regional Rescue Team, which includes fire department members from rural Ellis County, such as Ellis and Victoria, as well as from Hays. “It is noteworthy how well Ellis City Fire is working with other departments,” Ellis Fire Chief Denis Vine said. Vine also noted there is still a vacancy on the Ellis department. Photo by Nickole Byers.

Merger seen as ‘doable’

By Steven Schwartz
Iola Register – August 21, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – August 30, 2013

Iola City Administrator Carl Slaugh has been playing the middle man between Iola Fire Department workers and Allen County Emergency personnel in efforts to smooth out any wrinkles in the EMS merger between the two entities.

“We’ve got to make accommodations,” Slaugh said. “There are still a lot of issues to work out.”

He said he has discussed multiple topics with both sides. Concerns include the difference of pay scales between the city and county, work shifts (the city works a 24 hour shift, the county a 48 hour shift), facilities, revenue and certification requirements for the workers.

According to the city’s discussions, Slaugh said “everybody will have to be trained as a firefighter would be stationed outside of the city limits.

There are currently 19 city personnel and 18 county personnel (the county also has part-time positions equal to two full-time positions). Under the proposal, the county states there must be “approximately” 33 employees under a joint service.

“(Cutting personnel) is really the only way to save money,” Slaugh said.

The county will contribute $750,000 per year for the services, which Slaugh believes is not going to fully cover expenses—especially if facilities in Humboldt and Moran need to be updated.

But, Slaugh said the city is willing to work with the county to make the merger happen—they just haven’t had the chance to discuss the details. The merger proposal is listed on the agenda for Monday’s city council meeting.

“I think it’s doable,” Slaugh said. “We wouldn’t have come this far if we weren’t confident we could make it happen.”

Williams Energy Grant Program benefits Windom Fire Department

Monitor Journal – August 21, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – August 30, 203

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Randy Heinrichs, Operation manager of Williams Energy Conway presents a check to Troy Smyres, Volunteer Fire Chief of the Windom Fire Department. Also pictured from left are: Tyler Whorton, Williams Conway Safety Spec; Dan Stephenson, Williams Conway underground supervisor; Randy Heinrichs, Williams Conway operations Mgr; Troy Smyres, Williams Conway Frac Opt tech and Windom Volunteer Fire Chief; Doug Peters, Williams Controls Tech Spec and Windom Fire Volunteer; Ryan Barta, Williams Corrosion Tech and Windom Fire Volunteer.

Williams Energy tries to donate to Emergency responders each year in the areas Williams operates. Williams has operations at Mitchell, Conway and operates the Overland Pass Pipeline that runs through the area. The money is for general operating purposes. Williams has many employees from the Little River/Windom area and wants to support the employees communities.

Post celebrates National Night Out

Ft. Riley Post – August 16, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – August 30, 2013

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Fire department researching engine manufacturers

Junction City Daily Union – August 22, 2013
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – August 30, 2013

Junction City Fire Chief Kevin Royse and Battalion Chief Rick Rook have been working together to identify possible ways to save money on much-needed fire engine purchases.

Royse and Rook recently attended a fire engine manufacturers convention in Chicago to research possible deals, which include purchasing several new engines from one manufacturer.

“We have not identified the manufacturer yet,” Royse said during Tuesday’s City Commission meeting. Already down two of its trucks because of mechanical issues and planning to use a grant to fund most of the purchase of a new aerial ladder truck, the fire department is looking at close to $2 million in new vehicles.

The recently-awarded FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant will cover $760,000 of that total for an aerial truck, but the grant requires the city to match at least $84,444.

Though it could save the city money, a purchase agreement with one manufacturer would require the commission’s OK to waive a bid process.

Commissioner Mick McCallister told Royse to keep the commission updated.

“(We’re) open to the idea,” he said. “We need more information.”

The 2014 budget allotted two mills for the fire reserve, which is expected to provide funds for the new trucks, likely through a lease-purchase agreement.

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