By Brix Fowler, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -
Three female college students were forced to escape an early morning house fire in Lawrence by jumping from windows.
"I woke up around 4 a.m. and someone was banging on my door telling me there was a fire next door," said Chris Powell, a neighbor.
"It was crazy, because, like, they were dumping water on it the whole time. It seemed like they couldn't put it out," said Michael Leary, another neighbor.
About 4:14 a.m., Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical was called to what was initially a single-alarm house fire at West 14th and Kentucky streets. Initial responders found fire coming from the front porch and first and second floors of a three-story balloon framed house.
"It was definitely weird. I've never seen a fire like that before. It was out of control," Powell said.
Fire crews requested a second alarm about 4:19 a.m. due to the construction of the building and the potential that multiple people were inside. It forced two of the three girls to jump from a second-floor window into the arms of a group of men walking by to survive. They were the same men who spotted the blaze and pounded on their door to wake everyone up.
Everyone got out safely and was evaluated for smoke inhalation.
"This whole front was caught up. It was coming out of the top. The smoke was all throughout the neighborhood. I was kind of choking over there, like three houses down. It was really intense," Powell said.
When the fire broke through the attic and hidden spaces, crews requested a third alarm. It took firefighters more than an hour to finally get the blaze under control.
"The crazy part for me was they had, like, a fire line just spraying right here just so our home wouldn't catch because the flames were getting pretty close," Leary said.
Powell and Leary said they're just thankful the fire didn't spread and damage other homes as well.
"I couldn't imagine coming back to that and having my stuff gone - a pile of ashes," Powell said.
The Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross and representatives from the University of Kansas Student Services are helping the three displaced students.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and it's unknown at this time how much damage it caused.
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