Firefighters and volunteers did what they could to save a barn on fire near Lawrence.
An accidental fire destroyed a barn Wednesday west of Lawrence despite a community effort involving three township fire departments, area residents and other volunteers.
Douglas County Sheriff's deputy Ron Wilson said he was operating a radar gun northwest of Lawrence when he noticed smoke rising from a farm field at 1:29 p.m.
When he arrived at the scene three minutes later, flames already had engulfed the barn, 3 1/2 miles west of Lawrence on Douglas County Road 1750N.
Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson said this morning that authorities had not determined the cause of the fire but had uncovered no evidence of arson. An estimate of damage to the barn and its contents was still being compiled this morning, Anderson said.
The barn was owned by Bob and Betty Brink of rural Lawrence, authorities said.
Steve Guinn, safety officer for the Kanwaka Township volunteer fire department, said the fire broke out only a few hours before firefighters were scheduled to test new and updated equipment at a township farm.
"We were going to lay down 750 feet of hose and then lay lines to a mock barn fire this evening," Guinn said during a water break.
Instead, Guinn and firefighters from Kanwaka, Lecompton and Wakarusa townships sweated out the afternoon in their turnout gear, bringing the hay-fueled fire under control.
"I'm getting too old for this," joked Leroy Boucher, Lecompton fire chief, who retired from his full-time job last Thursday.
Firefighters got a boost from area residents, who removed items from a shed adjacent to the barn, moved hoses and helped vent the shed by prying corrugated tin panels off the roof.
Dwight Byers, tenant of the farmstead and a former volunteer firefighter, manned a hose during much of the firefight while volunteers like Vicki Mallonee and Iona Spencer brought food and drinks to the scene.