By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
BALDWIN CITY, KS (KCTV) -
Volunteers spent years transforming an old lumber yard into an art center in downtown Baldwin City. On Sunday, a fire threatened to burn down all their hard work.
The building's smoke detectors went off just after 4 a.m. Sunday. The sprinklers worked to contain a fire that burned the back half of the building. Crews from Lawrence also were called in to help extinguish the flames.
Tony Brown raced to the center to see the damage.
"It wasn't as bad as we anticipated. The whole back part of the building is really a tinder box that could have gone up quickly," said Tony Brown with the Lumberyard Arts Center.
Firefighters were able to keep the fire isolated to the unfinished back of the building.
"We made entry into the building we had to go through a lot of rooms to get to it. It was all the way in the back. We hit it with water and pretty well knocked it down," Baldwin Fire Chief Allen J. Craig said.
The gallery part of the building does have some smoke and water damage. The sprinkler system was set up to put out the fire, but not damage the art.
The building used to be the lumberyard in Baldwin City, KS, and was at the center of town, where everyone came to get supplies. But when it closed down, a part of downtown closed as well, Brown said.
Volunteers converted it into an arts center that opened in March 2010.
"We feel lucky to be able to salvage it and turn it into someplace equally as important, a place to celebrate the arts," Brown said.
After the fire, Brown said, for the most part it was pretty well preserved.
"The art work wasn't damaged. So if that's any indication I think we're OK," Brown said.
Volunteers say they will be working on the Lumberyard Art Center as soon as it is safe to do so. Next spring the center is set to host the traveling Smithsonian exhibit, The Way We Worked.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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