Fire kills one, destroys Junction City apartment building

September 08, 2003

JUNCTION CITY - A fire at a Junction City apartment building early Sunday resulted in the death of one of the occupants. Eight other people who were in the apartments, including a newborn and two children, escaped.

A Junction City firefighter and some Lincoln County firefighters from Moreland were injured fighting the blaze at 4535 Old Hustonville Road.

Steve Burton, 39, died Sunday as a result of apparent smoke inhalation, according to Dr. James Ramey, Boyle County coroner.

The fire started about 2 a.m. and Burton was pronounced dead at 8 a.m., Ramey said.

Burton, a construction worker, was living in the first floor in the apartment at the rear of the two-story building. Burton's badly burned body was sent for an autopsy, Ramey said. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at Preston-Pruitt Funeral Home.

Burton was married to Cathy Burton, who was not in the apartment, Ramey said. He was the son of Eddie Burton of Danville.


Brad Murphy, a Junction City firefighter who also is a city council member, was injured while fighting the fire.

Jimmy Gipson, Junction City fire and police chief, said Murphy is expected to be released from the hospital today. Murphy was injured when a wall fell on him.

"It hurt his shoulders, his back and his hip is hurting."

Gipson said Murphy, Moreland fire chief, was with other firefighters from Moreland when they were injured. The names of the other injured firefighters were not available.

"They were on second floor on a deck and it gave way because a wall fell. They fell and the wall fell on them."

In addition to Moreland Station 3, Junction City was assisted by Boyle County and Danville firefighters.

Gipson said the fire was dispatched at 2:37 a.m. Sunday. Firefighters were on the scene until 5 p.m. Sunday.

Sue High, who helps her father, Sam Belcher, with renting the apartments, commended the firefighters and police for their work in getting the occupants out. One woman, Leatha Durham, had rented an apartment that day with her two children.

"Anthony Pinkston went in and woke her up and went in and got her boy," High said.

High said Pinkston worked hard to save the residents.

"He is a very brave man, I tell you that," she said.

Another couple in the building had brought home a newborn baby Thursday. A passer-by saw smoke coming from the building and alerted the fire department, High said.

High said Burton had moved into the apartment with a friend, Bill Middleton, that week.

"I met him Thursday, and saw him moving some stuff," High said, noting that Middleton had been renting the apartment for some time.

The cause of the fire is not known, but High thinks it started from a cigarette and that alcohol was involved. Gipson also said he expects alcohol was involved.

"That's all we could attribute it to," she said.

Her father said the fire did start in the apartment were Burton was staying.

"We assume (Burton) passed out and went to sleep with a cigarette," Belcher said.

Belcher noted that the apartment building is owned by his stepson, Eddie Campbell.

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