Fire that caused Lawrence hotel to partially collapse had 'undet - KCTV5

Fire that caused Lawrence hotel to partially collapse had 'undetermined' cause

Posted: Updated:
Fire crews are still waiting for what is left of a Lawrence hotel to be deemed safe before investigators can go inside to determine a cause. (KCTV5) Fire crews are still waiting for what is left of a Lawrence hotel to be deemed safe before investigators can go inside to determine a cause. (KCTV5)
LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -

UPDATE: On Friday, investigators said that the cause of this fire has been classified as "undetermined." 

Previous coverage:

Authorities say a fire has destroyed a Lawrence motel but that the occupants evacuated safely.

The fire started before noon Monday in the Americas Best Value Inn. The building, which has been a Super 8 motel in recent years, is located northwest of the intersection of Sixth and Iowa streets.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Division Chief and Fire Marshal James King says the fire started in the lowest level. After one firefighter fell through a floor inside the building while battling the blaze, the decision was made to battle the fire defensively, pouring water on it from the outside.

The firefighter who fell was quickly rescued, evaluated at the scene and returned to his crew uninjured. 

Fire crews are still waiting for what is left of the hotel to be deemed safe before investigators can go inside to determine a cause. They will be bringing in heavy machinery to move some of the debris to help in the investigation.

“In terms of, just as the structure is standing, that it’s safe in terms of there’s no imminent collapse,” King said.

Fire officials struggled while battling the fire, dealing with frozen equipment and the water they sprayed quickly turning to ice. Buses were brought in to keep crews warm, and they rotated frequently. There were a few equipment issues in the cold as well. Ice now covers the parking lot of nearby trees near the hotel.

The fire department says the hotel did not have a sprinkler system, but it did have a working and complainant smoke detection system. King admits the structure of the building and the lack of a sprinkler system played a role in how long it took to get the fire out. 

King says since they can’t go inside the building just yet and are relying on information from hotel staff and witnesses.

“We do have already, based on interviews, some leads that we are following, certainly as we are able to get in and evacuate the site, render it safe and start looking for that area of origin, then we will start looking for clues and that will guide us as well to make a determination,” King said.

King says it’s too early to say if anything criminal started the fire.

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