Vacant apartment building goes up in flames in Lancaster

May 20, 2004|JIM LOGAN

LANCASTER - A fire destroyed a vacant apartment building Wednesday in Lancaster. The cause is under investigation, but a fire official suggested it could have been deliberately set.

The four-unit Goff Apartments at 114 Lexington St. was destroyed in the blaze that started about 5:10 p.m., Lancaster Fire and Rescue Chief Kenneth Adams said today.

About 30 firefighters from Lancaster and Garrard County District 1 battled the blaze until about 1 a.m., he said. Adams said he inspected the building throughout the night, checking for hot spots.

Three firefighters were slightly injured on the scene, Adams said. The worst injury came when the ceiling in an upstairs apartment collapsed and struck a man on the shoulder. One man suffered a leg injury, and another said he got something in his eye.


An older building of wood and brick, the apartments had been heavily vandalized. Owner Terry Floyd, of Nicholasville, said he was "in the process of fixing it up."

He said someone was supposed to be living in one of the units.

"I didn't know it was vacant till I was over there," Floyd said this morning. "They just moved out on me."

Floyd, who has owned the building about four years, said he was told the building was in disrepair and saw it this week.

Vandals "had just trashed it"

"I went over there and someone had just trashed it," he said. He said vandals had put "holes in the wall, tore the rails off the stairs, broke the toilets, wrote things on the wall."

The building was insured, but Floyd said he hasn't decided if he will rebuild.

Adams said that although the cause of the blaze is under investigation, the building's condition and other factors suggest it is suspicious.

There were "reports that children were seen in the area and had been hanging out in there, which I know to be a fact," he said. The children had been chased off the property, he said, but he was told they returned later.

Vacant and dilapidated buildings like the apartments, he said, are fires waiting to happen.

"You see some windows broken out ... and you just know it's coming," Adams said. "Every time I look at it, I think about it."

State police will be contacted if the fire's origin proves suspicious, he said.

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