A Lawrence business incurred $2,500 in fire and smoke damage Tuesday afternoon shortly after its president discussed closing early for the New Year's holiday.
The two-alarm fire at Art&Sign Graphics Corp., 619 Vt., was reported at 2:29 p.m. and was confined to a back room of the building. Lawrence fire Capt. Lloyd Hammerschmidt said the fire was caused by an exhaust fan that "seized up" in a back paint room.
During the short-lived fire, a small amount of flame could be seen from a back window next to a duct pipe. Firefighters extinguished the fire at 2:47 p.m. from inside the building, while another firefighter opened the duct with a crowbar, causing acrid gray smoke to spew out for a short period.
"We were working a full day and were just deciding to take off a little bit early for New Year's," said Bob Treanor, president of Art&Sign Inc.
TREANOR said 15 to 18 people were in the building when the fire was discovered. Several employees tried to put out the fire before calling the fire department but were forced outside the building, he said, "because it became real smoky real quick."
Two employees, Mike Murphy and John McClacherty, were transported by the Douglas County Ambulance Service to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where they were treated for smoke inhalation and released.
Art&Sign is a sign manufacturing company that has been in business since 1970. Treanor also runs BT Design, a design and advertising business, just north of the sign company at 613 Vt. The sign business will re-open on Thursday, he said.
"We've got some smoke damage, but we don't really have any building damage," he said. "We've got a hole in the wall in the back, but it seemed like it was a small fire with a lot of smoke."
TREANOR said some electrical signs under construction inside were damaged by smoke.
"It's certainly things we can clean up and repaint," he said.
The building had been remodeled in early 1991, Treanor said, including an upgrade of its production area.
The fire department sent three engines, a ladder truck and its quick response truck to the scene. Hammerschmidt said eight firefighters worked inside the building to extinguish the fire.
Treanor had kind words for the fire department's efforts.
"It's always nice to call the finest fire department in the state of Kansas," he said. "That gives you a real quick feeling of comfort when these guys show up. They start giving you a lot of really good feelings about everything being OK."
The fire came a year and a week after a Christmas Eve 1990 blaze that destroyed four businesses two blocks south of the sign company in the 800 block of Vermont Street. The 1990 fire caused $330,900 in damage to the Miller Print Shop, Alley Cat Records, The Chapman Used and Curious Goods store and Systems Intergration. All but Miller Print Shop reopened in 1991 at different locations.