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Archive for Tuesday, September 4, 1990

CAUSE OF EUDORA FIRE STILL UNKNOWN

September 4, 1990

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— Investigators continued to search for the cause of a Saturday morning fire that heavily damaged the Eudora Lumber Co. while the lumber company's owner worked to get back into business.

Fire and law enforcement officials from Eudora and Lawrence scheduled a 4 p.m. meeting today at the Lawrence/Douglas County Law Enforcement Center to discuss the fire that destroyed two buildings at the lumberyard and a nearby historic railroad depot, which was used for storage by the lumber company. A smaller barn-like storage structure also was destroyed.

"We're just going to discuss the investigation and where we need to go from here," Lawrence Fire Chief Jim McSwain said today.

MCSWAIN SAID he, Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson, Eudora's acting police chief, Kenny Massey, and Larry Stemmerman, a Lawrence firefighter in charge of the investigation, would be among officials at the meeting.

Officials haven't determined the cause of the fire, which resulted in at least $200,000 in damage.

An official estimate of the damage is being withheld pending inspection by insurance adjusters, Massey said.

McSwain said the investigation has been slowed because areas of debris have continued to smolder.

"It's hard to do an investigation with the hot spots," McSwain said.

JOHN HARRIS, the lumber company's principal owner, was back at the charred remains of his lumberyard today. The southern half block of the lumberyard was saved from destruction, and Harris was operating out of a makeshift office in an existing building that wasn't ruined in the blaze.

Harris said the lumberyard was able to make deliveries on a couple of existing orders from stock that wasn't damaged.

Meanwhile, a Eudora resident who was among the first on the scene of the fire said today that local residents should be thankful for the fast and professional response by the firefighters who fought the blaze.

"People might not realize that if they hadn't come down and done what they did, if it would have been 20 minutes later, my house would have gone up in flames and so would a whole lot of houses," said Jerry Trober, who lives across the street from the lumberyard.

Trober said the fire will continue to haunt him and other nearby residents for some time to come.

"The night after the fire it was impossible to sleep," he said. "I've talked to several neighbors and they told me the same thing. You keep waking up and just picture it all happening again."

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