Pines Apartments Have History Of Disasters

Firefighters on the scene of a large fire at the Pines Apartments in Topeka on March 18, 2014 (WIBW/Jovarie Downing)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)- A dozen people who lived at the Pines Apartment complex in Topeka spent Wednesday sifting through what's left of their belongings.

Fire tore through their building Tuesday night.

It's not the first time the complex has seen a disaster like this. Unfortunately, this is at least the third major fire at the Pines. Luckily, as in the past incidents, residents all made it out alive.

Topeka Fire Marshall Mike Martin says a BBQ smoker on a balcony caused the blaze Tuesday night at the Pines Apartments.

"Everyone did make it out safe so we are all thankful for that," said Martin.

In the past 35 years, the Pines Apartment complex has seen several disasters. In 1979, 50-foot flames filled the sky, destroying 90 units of the complex.

"My dogs my dogs! I lost everything," cries a Pines Apartment tenant in 2008.

And on June 17th 2008, a fire attributed to unattended cooking destroyed 10 units, causing more than one and a half million dollars damage.

Fire hasn't been the only threat.

"I was only in the bathroom for 30 seconds and the the ceiling just crashed over the top of me," said a Pines Apartment tenant in 2004.

On June 17th 2004, high winds knocked over a 400-foot tall Kansas Highway Patrol communications tower, crushing 2 cars and a building at the Pines.

But in those incidents, as in Tuesday night's, no one was hurt.

12 people safely escaped the latest flames. Firefighters helped rescue several pets.

Red Cross volunteers are helping those affected.

"We've helped them with food and clothing and shelter. Some people had places to stay and if they didn't we put them up in a hotel. I can't even imagine what they feel like," said Lisa Biggs, Disaster Program Manager for American Red Cross in Topeka.

Tuesday night's fire caused 180 thousand dollars damage to the structure and people's belongings.