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Residents of duplex displaced in Sunday structure fire


WARRENSBURG — Residents of both units in a duplex have been displaced following a structure fire Sunday, July 10, at a duplex in the 1200 block of Pebblecreek Drive. 

The rear exterior of the structure was heavily damaged in the fire, making both units uninhabitable. The Red Cross was called in to provide assistance. 

Both units were evacuated and no civilian injuries were reported. 

Crews from the Warrensburg Fire Department and the Johnson County Fire Protection District arrived on scene at 3:20 p.m. and reported the back of the structure fully involved. 

“First arriving units had pretty heavy fire on the back of the duplex as well as the roof area,” Fire Prevention Officer Jeremy VanWey said. “It had gotten into the attic. We believe that the fire started on the exterior of the building, on the back deck area and then breached into the building, ran up the vinyl siding along the back and got into the floor space between the first and second floor, as well as getting into the attic space.” 

VanWey said one of the initial concerns for this fire was the heat from the fire was melting the exterior of a neighboring building. 

Crews faced difficulty during the attack stage because the rear of the building abuts a ditch with brush. 

“There was kind of a natural barrier behind (the building), that ditch area that made it a little bit difficult to access it but not too bad,” VanWey said. “We could still clearly get to the back of the building without too much trouble.”

The fire was under control at 3:54 p.m. and the last crew cleared the scene at 6:17 p.m. 

VanWey said the cause of the fire is believed to be improperly discarded smoking material. 

“That was the only cause we were unable to eliminate,” VanWey said. “Somebody had been smoking on the deck a few hours prior.” 

VanWey said the WFD strongly recommends disposing ash into designated containers. 

“A lot of times, people tend to use flowerpots or little planters to extinguish cigarettes,” VanWey said. “I’ve ran into this at numerous fires over the years and a lot of people think, ‘oh, it’s just dirt, it’ll be fine to put it in there.’ But a lot of these potting mixes and potting soils, that kind of stuff that are used for flowers and vegetables, it’s not just dirt.” 

VanWey said potting mix often contains additives that are combustible, especially when conditions are dry. 

There were a total of 30 firefighters on scene, including six personnel from the JCFPD. The WFD has an agreement with the JCFPD for mutual aid. JCFPD is automatically dispatched to assist the WFD at the report of a structure fire in Warrensburg. 

“For a building of this size, that’s a pretty good size force, but with the heat, it’s just something we have to watch,” VanWey said. “Make sure everyone has a chance for a break, cool down for a bit and rotate folks through.” 

One firefighter is reported to have been treated on scene and later transported to be treated for heat exposure. 

“(Gear) protects us from elements in the fire, but it’s hot in that gear,” VanWey said. “When you’re working in the gear, even in cooler weather … you still get pretty hot and overheated. In temperatures like (Sunday) where it was in the low- to mid-90s while we were out there, it’s critical to be able to rotate staff through, let them get the gear off for a little bit, cool off, get some water in them.” 

The Johnson County Volunteer Fire Auxiliary provided water, snacks and other supplies to firefighters on scene.


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