Firefighters protect victims from fire; investigation into cause continues

December 18, 2018

Firefighters from LFD and IFD battled a three alarm fire December 17 at Benjamin Court Apartments.

As the first 911 calls from the Benjamin Court Apartments arrived at the Lawrence 911 Center, an alert Lawrence police officer had observed the smoke from the complex and started other emergency responders. First responders, including police officers, concerned citizens, firefighters, and medics, rushed in to the building, notifying residents of the fire, and assisting them to safety.

The three-alarm fire eventually impacted 89 units of the complex near the 5800 block of Lee Road. Residents from 62 units were unable to return to their homes and were provided shelter at the Fort Harrison YMCA under the care of Jenny Sera’s caring staff along with the Red Cross.

Vanessa Davis, Executive Director of the Red Cross said they opened the shelter to provide for the needs of the displaced citizens. She said Disaster Health Services are assessing medical needs and the Red Cross is providing sustenance and support to the victims.

LFD Fire Chief Dino Batalis said investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, but is grateful the fire was contained, and there were no serious injuries to residents or first responders. He said the site is protected while investigators continue their work at the scene. Batalis also said, “The firewall and doors in this facility prevented further damage.”

             The Lawrence Fire Department has created a special fund within their Firefighters Family Assistance Program, specifically designated to assist in providing basic support and supplies for displaced residents from Benjamin Court Apartments.

             Donations may be made to the Firefighters’ Family Assistance Fund in person at the Lawrence Fire Department Office (9001 E. 59th Street, Suite 204) or the GoFundMe site:


There are 254 units at Benjamin Court Apartments on historic Fort Harrison designed for over-55 years of age residents. Batalis said 30 units were destroyed in the fire. “We are awaiting news from the structural engineer about the safety of the west end of the building,” he said.