Louisville ATF

Fire investigators for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. (Courtesy of Louisville ATF)

The apartment fire on Leawood Drive that killed two people and injured several took place in a building with no sprinklers, according to Frankfort Fire Chief Wayne Briscoe.

Briscoe told the State Journal that the building was constructed before sprinkler systems were required, and that it was in compliance with fire codes because of the timing of its construction.

The investigation is ongoing, Briscoe said. 

“Our investigative team is going in and out,” Briscoe said. “We want to make sure we're doing our due diligence, that we're isolating and getting all the information together. As you can imagine, the rumor mill and the massive inflow of information is pretty abundant at this time.”

Briscoe said that when the fire crew arrived that morning, after a passerby reported an alarm going off at the 804 Leawood Drive building, there was heavy fire throughout the building.

Agents with the Louisville field division of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were on site over the weekend and on Monday to assist with the investigation.

Louisville ATF’s Twitter account posted on Friday that there were no signs of criminal intent, and spokesperson Stephanie Collins said that its evaluation has not changed as of Monday.

Briscoe said that he could not yet share any more details on the fire, such as where in the building it started or what the cause of the fire might be, due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.

“It’s probably going to still be some time before we hone it down and release an official area and cause,” Briscoe said. “We want to make sure that we're putting in the due diligence and to make sure that we're accurate.”

The building, along with 803 and 805 Leawood Drive, was purchased in March 2020. Peach Properties — Canterberry sold it to PR Fieldstone LLC for $1.113 million, Franklin County Property Valuation Administrator records indicate. PR Fieldstone LLC also owns several other buildings in the Thistleton area.

The American Red Cross and Frankfort-Franklin County Emergency Management are partnering to help those who were displaced by the fire.

The two people who died in the fire, Zephany Rushin and Quiana Danyel Miller-Walker, were pronounced dead at 10:35 a.m. and 12:31 p.m., respectively. Rushin was pronounced dead at the scene.

Eyewitness account

Jessica Mitchell lives with her daughter in an apartment to the immediate south of the 804 building.

She was getting ready for work that morning when her electricity went out because of the fire. She came out to a scene that at first seemed like no big deal. She couldn’t see any flames — only some smoke in the air and a fire truck on the road.

“I was like ‘why is my electric being cut off,’” Mitchell said. “So I got out and I noticed the butt-end of a firetruck right on the road.”

Then she looked up at three and a half stories to the 804 building’s top window.

“I went up and saw a lady, she was hanging out the window,” Mitchell said. “She was yelling for help, and she had to land on the pavement — and glass for that matter because you figure she had to bust the window out to even get out.”

Mitchell said that the scene included firefighters rushing in and out of the building throughout the day. She added that she knew the man who was burned in the fire, who was later flown to the University of Louisville Burn Center via helicopter.

Mitchell also said she saw first responders giving CPR to an injured person in front of the building.

“It was pretty traumatizing for everyone,” Mitchell added.

She said that after people were transported to the hospital, she noticed first responders taking a moment of silence, kneeling at the front lawn of the building.

“I thought it was awesome seeing the first responders all kneeling down and doing a moment of silence after they went in a few times,” Mitchell said.

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