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Residential house fire lands man arrest for arson

By Mary Meyers
Atchison Globe – May 24, 2017

Photo by Mary Meyers. Click on photo to view full-size.

Formal charges are pending against a 47-year old Atchison man arrested for arson after an overnight investigation concerning a Monday evening fire inside an unoccupied midtown dwelling.

Gary W. Skeen was arrested and booked for arson Tuesday afternoon at the Atchison County Jail where he was held following his arrest on misdemeanors Monday night.

The arrest came after emergency responders were dispatched about 6 p.m. to the scene where smoke was reportedly seen emitted from inside a residence in the 900 block of Atchison Street. Atchison Fire Department firefighters, Atchison Police, Atchison County EMS Ambulance crews and Atchison County Rescue volunteers were present on the scene.

Atchison Fire Chief Ted Graf and Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson agreed the agencies joined forces with authorities from Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office to pinpoint the cause of the blaze.

Graf said the preliminary findings indicated the origin was of a suspicious nature.

Investigators discovered pour patterns from an incendiary in one area of the house. The damages were mostly confined articles in one room, indicating the fire could have been intentionally set.

Wilson said the stages of an active investigation progressed into a criminal investigation involving arson.

Police initially arrested Skeen, a known acquaintance of the 48-year-old female homeowner, about 8:30 p.m. Monday in the 100 block of South Second Street for disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process.

Wilson said shortly after the fire police were on the lookout for Skeen to talk to him about the incident. Police located him and approached him about the house fire. Skeen became emotionally upset and moved objects in a rude or angry manner. He was apprehended, transported and booked into custody. Misdemeanor charges were filed Tuesday in district court that include assault and interference with law enforcement.

AFD Captain Bill Andre said the scene was released back to the homeowner on Tuesday morning, which means the cleanup process can commence. Andre said in the event of structure fires, it is a routine practice to turn off all gas and electrical utilities until the structures are deemed safe.

Skeen is currently a violent offender registrant until Oct. 21, 2029, according to a KBI Registered Offender Search online. Skeen has been registered since May 3, 2012 following his release from Kansas Department of Corrections in connection with a 2001 conviction on conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree. Skeen’s conviction arose from the Kurt Boldridge homicide that occurred on or about March 18, 2000 a few miles south of Atchison city limits in Walnut Township.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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89-year-old Carbondale man and dog killed in early morning fire

By Brian Dulle
KSNT – May 24, 2017

Photo by Nate Nottage-Tacey

Investigators are on the scene of a deadly fire in Carbondale.

Officials tell KSNT News the fire was reported around 6:30 Tuesday morning at 616 South 1st Street. When firefighters first arrived they reported the basement of the structure was fully engulfed in flames and was too hot to enter.

An 89-year-old man, who has not been identified at this time and a dog died in the fire.

The Kansas Fire Marshal is investigating.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

Edwardsville home fire under investigation

Wyandotte Daily News – May 24, 2017

A fire in the early morning hours of May 23 in the 500 block of Blake Street in Edwardsville is under investigation, according to authorities.

Edwardsville police and fire departments are looking into the cause of the fire at the split-level single-family home, a spokesman stated.

Firefighters responded to the fire and found one man inside the home. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation, the spokesman stated. The man is now in stable condition.

There was significant damage to the home, the spokesman stated.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

Wichita fire chief announces retirement

KSN – May 23, 2017

Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell has announced that he will retire in July. Blackwell has served as fire chief for nearly 10 years. Here is the letter he sent to the city.

I have tendered my intent to retire to the City Manager. My last in the office will be July 14, 2017. It has been my distinct honor to serve the citizens and residents of the City of Wichita as Fire Chief for almost 10 years.

Moments like this bring mixed emotions. While I am happily looking forward to retirement, there are many things I will miss. Among them are the camaraderie and support of civilian and uniform members of the department. However, I have reached a point in time for the next Fire Chief to implement, manage, and imprint several important projects including Optimized Deployment, Property Protection Analysis, Fleet Projects, Promotion Process, Recruit Class, Fleet and Facilities projects.

It has been both a challenge and a great honor to be called “Chief”, to work with some of the best fire service professionals in this very important business. I sincerely appreciate your service and our shared commitment to improve our service, enhance member safety and make the best use of new and existing resources. Organizationally our department is strong and when called upon does not falter. As I head out I am reminded of a quote from W.E.B. Du Bois, “I have loved my work, I have loved people and my play, but always I have been uplifted by the thought that what I (we) have done well will live long and justify my life (our lives), that what I have done ill or never finished can now be handed on to others for endless days to be finished, perhaps better than I could have done.”

I am grateful and humbled to have been a part of the Wichita Fire Department and to have had such a wonderful opportunity to serve with you.


Ronald D. Blackwell


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Preliminary location plans for fourth fire station revealed

By Mike Frizzell
Operation 100 News – May 23, 2017

Photo by Mike Frizzell

About 50 residents showed up to view preliminary plans for a new Shawnee fire station on Wednesday, May 17.

In July 2016, the Shawnee City Council raised the mill levy for the 2017 budget, partially to fund a new fire station in northwest Shawnee. Since the increase, the fire department and city staff have been working to locate a suitable site for the new fire station.

The fire department is recommending a site at 53rd Street and Woodsonia Drive as the location for the city’s fourth fire station. The proposed station would face 53rd Street. The recommendation calls for Roberts Street be extended north to 53rd Street, giving fire crews the ability to respond through a commercial area, instead of near homes along Woodsonia Drive.

Fire Chief John Mattox explained to those in attendance that residential construction in northwestern Shawnee has boomed since 1988 when Fire Station No. 3 opened in the 6700 block of Hedge Lane Terrace.

In 1988 there were 909 residential units in western Shawnee. Residential units in the same area now total 8,106 or a 791% increase since 1988, with more residences proposed.

Other sites considered by the fire department were at Garrett Park, near 47th Street and Aminda Street, and another city owned property on 55th Street just west of Belmont Drive.

The department determined the site near 53rd Street and Woodsonia could provide improved response times to more than 5,800 homes and nearly 17,000 residents. The two other sites could both impact about 2,500 homes and between 7,000 and 7,500 residents.

“It’s for the greater good,” said Ward III Councilman Jeff Vaught. “This site impacts the greatest amount of people most effectively. It seems to me that’s the direction you have to go.”

Mayor Michelle Distler said that most of the feedback she received at the open house seemed supportive of the new fire station. A few residents voiced concerns regarding the noise a fire station could bring to their neighborhood, mainly the sounds of sirens and horns.

“I think through explanation and education to residents, the fire department staff eased the concerns of the residents in regards to noise and safety, assuring them they will be a good neighbor,” Distler said.

Fire department staff explained how firefighters are not using sirens or air horns while around the station and not all responses will require bright lights or loud sirens.

Mattox said hiring to staff the new fire station has already begun. The department welcomed eight new firefighters in March, six of which are new firefighter positions. Mattox also said additional firefighter positions will be filled once construction of the new station begins.

The main emphasis of a fourth fire station is increasing the level of service offered to residents of northwest Shawnee and decreasing response times.

“Response time is critical and the mission of our fire department is to save lives and preserve property,” Distler told Operation 100 News. “The difference between success and failure is a matter of minutes or even seconds.”

Mattox stated the next step in the process will be to share the feedback from the neighborhood meeting with the City Council.

“I think that the overall opinion was positive and supportive of our recommendation to locate the station at 53rd and Woodsonia,” Mattox said. “My expectation is that we will begin final negotiations with the property owner to secure an option on that property and then take our plan to the Planning Commission for rezoning.”

Mattox and Distler both added their thanks and appreciation for the residents who attended the neighborhood meeting to share their opinions and offer feedback.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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Liberal Firefighters Battle Mobile Home Fire

By Joe Denoyer
KSCB News – May 23, 2017

At 6:11 am Tuesday, Liberal firefighters were dispatched to 2642 Long Ave. for a reported fire in the bedroom of the residence. Prior to arrival of fire units, Liberal Police officer’s on-scene advised that all residents had evacuated and were accounted for. The homeowner successfully attempted to control the fire to some extent with a garden hose through the bedroom window. Firefighters making entry encountered very little fire which was confined to one room of the home. The fire was declared under control at 6:14 am.

The fire began in the bedroom and spread through the entire room. The remainder of the residence suffered heat and smoke damage. The exact cause of the fire is undetermined at this time; however it appears to be accidental in nature. Three of the occupants of the residence were evaluated at the scene for possible smoke inhalation and one firefighter suffered an injury from a post-fire fall while removing equipment from the home. The fire department responded with a total of 18 personnel, two engines and a medical/rescue unit. Also assisting at the scene was the Liberal Police Department, American Red Cross, Southern Pioneer Electric & Black Hills Energy. All units were fully returned to service at 7:42 am.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

90-year-old Kansas woman dies in 2-vehicle crash

Hays Post – May 23, 2017

A Kansas woman died in an accident just before 12:30p.m. Monday in Sedgwick County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a 2002 Kia Rio driven by Ruth Rushing 90, Wichita, was northbound on Greenwich Road.

The driver failed to yield at Kansas 254 and drove in front of a westbound 1999 GMC Suburban driven by Ira Reed, 36, El Dorado.

The Suburban struck Kia in passenger side

Rushing was transported to Wesley Medical Center where she died.

Reed was not seriously injured. Both drivers were properly restrained at the time of the accident, according to the KHP.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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