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Archive for Saturday, July 20, 1996

DOWNTOWN FIRE DOUSED BEFORE ABLE TO SPREAD

July 20, 1996

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Lawrence firefighters managed to quickly quell a fire and save six doves from a downtown business.

Six doves were the only ones who needed to be rescued from a two-alarm fire Friday evening at a downtown Lawrence business.

"This was a relatively small fire," Capt. Joe Hoelscher said. "The fire was contained in the one apartment and heavy smoke was filled throughout the apartment."

Firefighters received an alarm at 7:52 p.m. and arrived two minutes later at Mass Street Massage, 927 1/2 Mass.

Firefighters went to the rear of the business and found heavy smoke on the second floor.

After determining no one was in the business, the priority for property rescue became six caged doves owned by Kathie Dragen.

"There's my doves," Dragen said as she arrived on the scene. "I had no idea. I came down here to get some money out of the office about 8:30 p.m."

Dragen said she owns Mass Street Massage, where a piece of electrical equipment started the blaze.

"As of yet, we have not been able to contact the business partner," said Battalion Cmdr. Jerry Karr. "We have not been able to identify the piece of electrical equipment because it was melted and is unidentifiable."

Karr said firefighters were lucky to have gotten to the fire before it spread throughout the rest of the building.

"We caught it going up the wall and into the ceiling," Karr said. "We made a good quick stop, because someone spotted it early."

Damage to Mass Street Massage was estimated at $20,000.

Two police car units were called to block traffic at both ends of the 900 block of Massachusetts and two police foot patrol units controlled a crowd of curious onlookers.

Lawrence resident David Norlin was downtown when he saw the fire units and crowd gathering.

"I just drove by and they were bringing this truck here in," Norlin said. "I'm not usually a fire chaser, but I saw it (the crowd) and said 'Aw, what the hell.'"

Other owners of businesses from 925 through 929 Mass. were contacted and questioned by investigating firefighter Clinton Lynn about any building occupants.

"I haven't found out anything yet," said Teresa Rasing, owner of Calamity Janes' clothing store, 927 Mass. "The police called (my fiance and I) and we just got here -- we came immediately."

After investigating Sarah's Fabrics, 925 Mass., Lynn told store owner Sarah Fayman that her store had some minor smoke damage.

"You're going to have a little bit of a smoke smell, but it's not that bad," Lynn said.

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