Archive for Tuesday, June 15, 1999


June 15, 1999


Fire in a wood sauna that apparently got out of control was the cause of a blaze Monday night that heavily damaged a garage in East Lawrence.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical crews about 8:30 p.m. were called to the garage at 1144 R.I., where heavy smoke was seen.

The owner of the garage, Anthony Backus, said his oldest son was lighting a wood sauna inside the garage when the fire started.

"It's in the corner of the garage and it may have gotten out of control," said Backus, who is vice president of the East Lawrence Improvement Assn.

Backus' younger son, Alex, called 911, Backus said.

The fire was declared under control about 15 minutes after fire and medical personnel arrived, but they still were putting out hot spots more than an hour after the fire was reported.

"The problem is the fire is up in the attic and I don't think (the ceiling's) strong enough to hold a firefighter carrying all that heavy equipment," Fire Battalion Chief Jerry Karr said.

"It's a stubborn fire," he said. "It's the most stubborn fire I've seen in a while."

Backus said the detached garage and sauna were constructed of wood. There was no gasoline, paint or other hazardous materials inside, he said.

Several thousand record albums were being stored in the garage, he said.

An estimate of damage to the garage and contents wasn't available Monday night.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is

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