UPDATE: Monday, May 7, 2012
Fire investigators may never know what sparked a blaze in downtown Ellsworth last week.
The fire destroyed the VFW building early Friday morning. No one was hurt, but several valuables were lost in the fire.
The Ellsworth County Emergency Management Director said the fire destroyed historical flags, but antique rifles were saved. The fire caused about $107,000 in damage.
Investigators said the fire started in the VFW kitchen, but the exact cause is undetermined.
Friday, May 4, 2012
Firefighters from five counties were called in to battle a fire in downtown Ellsworth. The fire started at a building on Main Street around 5 a.m. It took crews more than two hours to get the flames under control.
Michael Johnson was still in shock as he looked over the ashy remains of what was once the Ellsworth Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall. The VFW commander says losing one of the town's oldest buildings is hard, but some of the items destroyed by the fire are irreplaceable.
"We had flags from the veterans that had passed away and their families had donated the flags. We would fly them on Veterans Day and Memorial Day those are gone. Pictures of service men and their awards... those things can't be replaced," said johnson.
Ellsworth Fire Chief Bob Kepka says the fire was so big that they had to call in additional units from as far as Hays for help.
"It takes a lot of water and they did a good job. They held it and that's a good thing because in these blocks (fires) can go a long way," said Kepka.
The building is a complete loss and will have to be demolished. The American Legion has opened their doors to VFW members until they can find a new place to call home.