WARRENSBURG — Warrensburg Fire Department firefighters responded to the report of a structure fire at an apartment complex Tuesday, Oct. 13.
This is the second structure fire, in one week, the WFD has responded to after nearly a year without a structure fire in Warrensburg.
The WFD reports crews were called out to a structure fire at 1:58 a.m. in the 400 block of South Mulberry Street.
Interim Fire Chief Doyle Oxley said crews had the fire out by 2:14 a.m.
The WFD states a neighbor had used a garden hose to spray water on the fire before crews arrived.
The investigation of the scene by the WFD indicates the cause of the fire was unintentional.
The WFD reports the occupant of the apartment stated they turned off an oxygen generator while smoking and while attempting to put the cigarette in the ashtray, it fell off the coffee table and later blankets covering the couch were on fire.
“We can’t rule out a cigarette,” Oxley said. “We can’t rule (it) out because there was nothing left of the oxygen generator to see if it was on or off. All that melted off it. … Can’t rule out smoking materials as the cause.”
The occupant was checked out by Johnson County Ambulance District but was not transported. No injuries were reported for responders.
Many residents in the complex had self-evacuated and others were evacuated when crews arrived on scene.
Oxley said damage to the structure, including significant smoke and heat damage, was contained to the apartment where the fire started.
“The sheetrock that’s up on the ceiling, between the ceiling and the floor (of the above apartment), it held,” Oxley said. “It did its job and held. It kept the fire from penetrating up in the floor joists and taking that into the building. It was a good representation of what sheetrock can do as far as fire protection for your home.”
Due to the combustibility of oxygen, firefighters take certain precautions when dealing with oxygen tanks and oxygen generators at the scene of a fire.
“The oxygen generator isn’t as bad as the oxygen tanks,” Oxley said. “The oxygen tanks turn into, like, torpedoes.”
Oxley said a previous house fire a few years ago involved numerous oxygen tanks.
“We found oxygen bottles, when they went off, they went through the roof,” Oxley said. “One missed one of my guys on a pumper by six feet and we found parts of oxygen bottles about a block away from the fire.”
Oxley said tanks explode as the oxygen expands from the heat and fragments from the tanks become projectiles which becomes a major concern for firefighters.
“Our firefighting gear does not stop fragments,” Oxley said.
Crews completed overhaul and cleared the scene at 3:30 a.m.