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Archive for Saturday, September 4, 1999

EMPLOYEES EVACUATED AFTER SMOKE SCARE AT CITY HALL

September 4, 1999

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Smoke from smoldering roofing material set off fire alarms Friday afternoon and caused evacuation of city hall.

City hall workers on Friday almost got an unexpected early start to the holiday weekend when smoke from smoldering roofing material seeped into the building.

The smoke rolled into the building's air ducts, set off fire alarms and caused an evacuation around 3:30 p.m.

"The air handlers took the smoke right back into the building," said Battalion Chief Jerry Karr with Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical.

The smell of smoke , stronger on some floors than others, permeated the building.

The problem started on the roof, where Boone Brothers Roofing, Olathe, was working. The contractors were heating new roofing material with a torch and accidentally ignited a wood strip they had placed by an air-conditioning unit to allow them to build up the material in that spot.

"(The torch) got too close to that," said Steve Bennett, the building maintenance coordinator. "... It wasn't that bad; it was just smoldering."

The fire department checked the roof and structure for any dangerous spots and cleared the building of smoke using fans.

"The smoke wasn't terribly bad, but we don't take any chances with people and smoke," Karr said.

Around 4:15 p.m. employees were allowed back into the building.

The delay put a few people behind on the stacks of work they had to finish before the long weekend.

"There might be some of us here this weekend," Assistant City Manager Rod Bremby said.

Bremby didn't have a headcount of the number of people who were evacuated; about 20 city hall staffers were huddled in the parking garage at the Lawrence Riverfront Plaza waiting out the inspection.

The roofing project, which started about a week ago, should be completed around Sept. 25.

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is fhaynes@ljworld.com.

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