Flame returns to Liberty Memorial - KCTV5

Flame returns to Liberty Memorial

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

For nearly 100 years it has served as a symbol as sacrifice and freedom and now, after months of upgrades, the so-called flame atop the Liberty Memorial is shining brightly once again.

Chopper 5 flew overhead as the top of the Liberty Memorial was re-ignited Friday, but to get a true sense of how the flame works, you have to go deep into the bowels of the memorial.

"We are going to show you where the boiler is located," Denise Rendina, with the National World War I Museum, said.

The Liberty Memorial houses The National World War I Museum, as designated by the United States Congress in 2004.

Many machines work together to turn water into steam and that steam then makes the long journey to the top of the tower where it pours of vents.

It's not actually a flame people see at night, but instead a mixture of steam and colored lights that form a flame effect that's tricked more than a few people.

"We've had people who have driven by and called and said, ‘I think the tower is on fire,'" Rendina said.

But that was a very costly process, so staff spent $170,000 in energy upgrades to the entire building.

Rendina said the upgrades will translate into $65,000 in savings with nearly half that coming from the upgrades to the flame effect alone. She said it's a wise investment that ensures the memorial and museum will be here for future generations to enjoy.

"Kansas Citians should be so proud of what they've done, and they've really given a gift to the nation," she said. "We are glad to turn the flame back on. It's not just important to the museum, but an important icon for Kansas City."

In a sign of how far we've come since the memorial was built, engineers can now control the brightness of the flame with an iPhone app. They said it's just another way to control efficiency inside the building.

Energy efficiency wasn't the only upgrade done to the Liberty Memorial. The $5 million project also focused on improving the outdoor look of the facility. Security enhancements and repairs to the limestone were also included.

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