Lawrence on alert as firebug torches apartments - KCTV5

Lawrence on alert as firebug torches apartments

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Residents are worried as a firebug is torching buildings in and around Lawrence apartment complexes.

Lawrence authorities have doubled the reward to $5,000 for anyone who can help track down the arsonist.

No one has been injured but residents believe that is a miracle thus far. The arsonist is focusing on setting fires in public areas, such as stairwells and laundry rooms.

The latest fire, one of about 15 fires in and around apartments in south-central Lawrence, was in the 1800 block of W. 25th Avenue.

"It's a scary situation," said Lawrence Fire Department Chief Mark Bradford.

Evelyn Pliler lives in the area and she is terrified that she will be a casualty. She is wheelchair bound and depends on oxygen sent to her lungs from tanks.

"This is how I survive, my oxygen. I can't be without it. I'm on it 24/7," Pliler said. "I'll explode. I'd be blown to h-e-double tooth picks, because this house is full of oxygen."

Police want to put handcuffs on the arsonist. But Pliler wants to do something else.

"If I could get a hold of that person, I'm gonna be nice about it. I'd hang him up by his thumbs and beat him with a ball bat" she exclaimed. "I mean good God, what kind of person is that?"

Bradford said investigators are going back weeks to see what connections they can find and other fires.

Residents who are on edge hope investigators make an arrest soon.

"The last thing you want to do is wake up in the middle of the night facing fire," Joseph Lawton said.

Bradford said the fire department is working with area landlords to improve safety by adding locks and lighting.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Lawrence TIPS Hotline at 785-843-8477.

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