UPDATE: Monday, December 3, 2012
Fire investigators are waiting to begin their investigation into the cause of a fire that destroyed a building near Old Town early Saturday morning.
Firefighters were called to a building used by Coin Auto on the southeast corner of Lewis and Washington about 4:15 a.m.
Wichita Fire Capt. Stuart Bevis says the insurance company has to assess the damage before investigators will be allowed inside the building.
A preliminary damage estimate to the structure and its contents is around $500,000.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
Flames shot several feet into the air near downtown Wichita early Saturday morning as fire destroyed a building used by an automotive repair business.
Firefighters were called to a building used by Coin Auto on the southeast corner of Lewis and Washington about 4:15 a.m. said Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell.
The first-arriving crews cut their way into the building and found heavy fire inside. However, Blackwell said firefighters were unable to go very far into the building because of the amount of material stored in the building. Firefighters then began fighting the fire from the outside-in.
A second alarm was sounded about 4:30 a.m., bringing more crews to the scene. Blackwell said about 70 firefighters were part of the hours-long effort to bring the fire under control.
The west wall of the business collapsed and there were a few small explosions as crews continued to try to contain the fire. Blackwell said he believed there were some chemicals stored in the building. No firefighters were injured.
Firefighters also climbed onto the roofs of buildings to the north of the fire and extinguished embers to ensure the fire did not spread.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Deputy Chief Tammy Snow said investigators likely will not be able to enter the building until late Saturday, after the fire has been fully extinguished.