Archive for Thursday, July 6, 2006

Firefighters battle Leavenworth blaze

July 6, 2006

Leavenworth and area fire crews work to extinguish a fire in the 700 block of Shawnee Street in downtown Leavenworth on July 6.

Leavenworth and area fire crews work to extinguish a fire in the 700 block of Shawnee Street in downtown Leavenworth on July 6.

Last update: 11:40 a.m., July 7.

Area firefighters battled an afternoon blaze in one of downtown Leavenworth's historic buildings Thursday, July 6.

Smoke was reported coming from the building housing Exotic Scentsations, 726 Shawnee St., around 2 p.m. and the initial call indicated that two people were inside the building, a Leavenworth Fire Department official said. After the initial fire crew arrived and removed the people from inside the building, they began fighting what proved to be a stubborn fire.

Mike Lingenfelser, chief of operations for Leavenworth Fire Department, said that his crew made "an initial attack" to put out the fire after all individuals were secured from the building, but had troubled locating the source of the blaze.

"The hard part is locating the seat of the fire," Lingenfelser said. "These buildings have been cut up and remodeled so many times.

Firefighters work from the roof of the building to combat the flames spreading within 726 Shawnee St., Leavenworth.

Firefighters work from the roof of the building to combat the flames spreading within 726 Shawnee St., Leavenworth.

"The fire progressed and we still weren't gaining on it."

Lingenfelser quickly realized that additional help would be needed. He called in assistance from Lansing and Fort Leavenworth fire crews.

Rick Huhn, chief of Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1, said seven firefighters from Lansing responded to the call for assistance. Huhn said he was pleased with the performance of the Lansing crew who helped Leavenworth responders contain the tenacious fire from spreading to adjacent buildings.

"That was our main concern was that it would spread," Huhn said. "You get in those old buildings and they get tough to stop."

The cause of the fire is unknown, as is the extent of the damage to the aging building. As the fire progressed, the second floor collapsed onto the first, Lingenfelser said, which means the structural integrity of the building may be compromised.

726 Shawnee St., Leavenworth, on July 7, the day after the building caught fire.

726 Shawnee St., Leavenworth, on July 7, the day after the building caught fire.

"We'll have to bring in an engineer to determine whether the building is safe or whether we need to bring it on down," Lingenfelser said.

The owner of the building could not be reached for comment.

No injuries were sustained related to the fire, although an ambulance was called for several firefighters who may have overheated.

Check back for more updates as the story develops.

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