Kearney, FL – No injuries after sprinkler system puts out arson fire at women’s shelter

A fire started in the Kearney Center’s women’s wing on Sunday night was quickly put out by its overhead sprinkler system. The Center is now finding alternate sleeping arrangements for its female clients. The fire was started in a laundry bin in the Kearney Center’s women’s wing just after 8 Sunday night, forcing the center to evacuate all its residents. Patricia Johnson, 28, is accused of starting the fire and faces a charge of first degree arson. Now, Kearney Center director Jacob Reiter says about 90 clients of the Kearney Center will have to sleep elsewhere after the wing was flooded by its overhead sprinkler system.

“We had about 87 women sleeping with us last night. We typically have between 80 and sometimes 120, and so we’re prepared to sleep them here on site,” Reiter said. “We kind of will use a different space than the women’s wing, for example like the dining room. And so, we have overflow sleeping accommodations like cots and things like that.” Reiter says the Red Cross has helped out with extra cots, and ServPro has been at the center removing water and dehumidifying the women’s wing. There are no damage estimates yet. At this time of year, the Kearney Center houses about 375 people per night.

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