Apartment fire at Crown Point ends with tenant finding his property in dumpster

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 6:53 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The person rescued from his third-floor balcony at the Crown Point apartments on SW Park South Ct said his personal property was thrown out of his window, into a dumpster, without permission. His cousin reached out to 13 News and shared the story.

Bailey Heinsohn, the tenant’s cousin, said her cousin couldn’t believe what he found hours after firefighters rescued him from his balcony.

“They had thrown over half of his belongings from the third story window down to the dumpster on the ground. A majority of the fire was in the living room and spread to the kitchen, the bedroom just had smoke damage,” she said.

Heinsohn’s cousin didn’t want to speak on camera but she told us she believes he fell asleep on a chair in the living room with a lit cigarette. He woke up, yelled fire to warn his neighbors then tried to throw the chair over the balcony himself.

The fire caused approximately $35,000 worth of damage, but Heinsohn said no one asked her cousin about throwing everything away.

She said it’s against their contract, and she worries some items were stolen.

“When they had got back, at this point he had spoken with the manager and asked about getting a different apartment or emergency housing of which the Kansas Landlord-Tenant Laws say that they’re supposed to provide, he was told no,” she said. “He was then handed this list of other apartments that they own and manage and they said don’t even try to go to one of these we won’t let you stay there.”

“They caught one of the maintenance men walking out to put his grandfather’s knife and sharpener in his truck. And that’s when he kind of lost it and got pretty upset,” she said.

She said her cousin and his grandfather jumped into the dumpster to salvage what they could.

“I’m going to guesstimate three trash bags full of things. None of the sentimental items, pictures or anything like that that we could have taken to Service-Master to get restored, they were gone, and they were in the bottom of the dumpster.”

She said she understands the manager works for a corporation and their decisions rely on what they say, but wanted her cousin to have a choice.

“You have a duty to your tenants and to your owner to make sure that it is handled properly, no matter the occasion.”

The leasing office at Crown Point Apartments said it’s their understanding the tenant got out what he wanted and items thrown out were damaged. That the tenant could grab what he wanted from the dumpster and they say the Topeka Fire Department, so far, has said the tenant is responsible for the fire – and he will be liable for the damages in their opinion.

The tenant’s family said they were told the maintenance staff does not work with Crown Point offices and went in without approval from a higher-up, but Crown Point Apartments said the property manager directs the staff.

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