One morning in Caney: Reflecting on the 1980 school fire

40 years after a school janitor set fire to Lincoln Memorial Elementary School, we asked those who were there to recall that morning in Caney.

On September 10th, 1980, an enormous fire destroyed portions of Lincoln Memorial Elementary School in Caney, Kansas.

Fortunately, the entire building was evacuated in time and not a single person was injured, though the source of the blaze wasn’t clear at first.

When our station first reported from the scene that day, we thought we had identified the school hero – a new custodian by the name of Robert Lee Carty Jr.

Little did we know, an investigation later that day would lead to the confession and arrest of that very same man.

40 years later, we caught up with people who were at the school that day.

Thank you to Andy Taylor, Michelle Jamison, Robin Rolls, and Ferd & Jonathan Estes for their help in telling this story, to Joe Warnock for taking pictures that day, and to everyone who helped that morning in Caney.

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