Archive for Sunday, October 5, 2008

Firefighters extinguish two-alarm blaze at new Free State Brewery facility in east Lawrence

Just days before the start of a major expansion project, Free State Brewing Company's east Lawrence brewing and bottling facility is damaged in a two-alarm fire early Sunday morning.

October 5, 2008, 7:04 a.m. Updated October 5, 2008, 4:13 p.m.


Fire at Free State Brewing facility

Firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire at the Free State Brewing facility, 1927 Moodie Road in east Lawrence. Enlarge video

Days away from the launch of a major expansion project, Free State Brewing Co. sustained damage to its East Lawrence brewing and bottling facility early Sunday.

"When I pulled around the corner at 6:30 in the morning before daylight, I just had the sense this is a really bad dream," Free State owner Chuck Magerl said Sunday afternoon from the scene.

About 6:30 a.m. Sunday, fire crews responded to reports of flames and smoke to Free State's recently renovated facility at 1927 Moodie Road. The fire was declared under control about 8 a.m., according to Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical.

The department is expected to report on the cause and the damages of the fire today, officials said. The building was not occupied at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries reported.

The smell of smoke hung in the air around the building Sunday as fire crews investigated the scene.

Magerl said Sunday evening that he had not yet had a chance to walk through the building and inspect the damage.

Brewmaster Steve Bradt pointed to black smoke stains around a window at the back of the building, the area of a mechanical room that housed electrical panels and refrigeration equipment.

"That end of the building in general is where the fire seems to have gotten started," he said. "They still have to finish poking through the ashes to figure out where it started."

Bradt said the refrigeration equipment was the only equipment that was running at the time of the fire. The facility contained brewing equipment and a full supply of malted barley, wheat and hops.

Free State for months has been overhauling the 12,000-square-foot facility to expand the company's production capacity. The site, in the former A.B. Coker Building, had been renovated with everything from new floors to new plumbing and electrical work.

Free State currently produces about 2,700 barrels of beer per year at its downtown location, 636 Mass. The new site offers significant expansion potential.

"The capacity at this facility would allow us to produce more beer both in keg and in bottle form for distribution around the region, for sale at restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as into liquor stores," Magerl said.

It would enable Free State to increase capacity at least fivefold to sevenfold with the potential to go beyond that, Magerl said. It would also allow Free State to brew a greater variety of beers.

In the first months of the new facility's operations, plans were to focus on increasing production and distribution of keg beer and move into bottling by the spring, Magerl said. The brewery is anticipating distribution in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

The company had planned to produce its first test batches this week, Magerl said.

The fire will delay those plans, and Magerl and Bradt said Sunday they didn't know how long it would take to get back on track.

"We really don't have any way of assessing at this point what the structural damage may be," Bradt said. "Until we have a handle on that, I don't want to even guess how long this will take to work our way through."

In the meantime, the company will continue to brew beer at its downtown site.

"We have a goal in mind," Bradt said. "We'll get to that goal. It's just going to take us a bit longer than we thought it would."

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Free State Brewery facility structure fire

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Location of the Free State Brewing facility fire, 1927 Moodie Road. Firefighters battled the blaze early Sunday morning.


clyde_never_barks 9 years, 4 months ago

del888 - do you live susupended in the air??? 6th & Kasold is not 5 blocks from the Hospital!

Danimal 9 years, 4 months ago

I love Free State's beer, I hope this doesn't put an end to their expansion and they go ahead with distributing and bottling.

rubyshoes 9 years, 4 months ago

in response to somebodynew, you know nothing about the current state of that building. FSB did a complete overhaul on it. And no it is not completely gone. A lot of smoke and water damage yes, but a complete loss - no!

Jonathan Kealing 9 years, 4 months ago

Punkrock-I think this is the story you're looking for: was up by 11:30 last night and in the breaking bar until about 8 this morning.Jonathan KealingOnline editor

Deja Coffin 9 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

rubyshoes 9 years, 4 months ago

In response to Marion Lynn, the building had undergone extensive renovations in the past year and was not in any way full of exposed insulation and fiberglass.

TheEleventhStephanie 9 years, 4 months ago

Oh, that sucks. I love Free State beer. I am glad, however, that it wasn't someones's home again. We seem to have more than our share of fires in this town.

Nikki May 9 years, 4 months ago

I believe his name is Kealing. But, I seem to not see lots of alarms reported. Friday night, I heard fire trucks and ambulance going by and about 5 minutes later, I heard a helicopter and thought for sure someone was life flighted, but never saw an article. Not everything will be on here, I understand that, but doesn't stop me from wondering.

Deja Coffin 9 years, 4 months ago

Awww, how did my comment get deleted? It wasn't that bad...come on, it was kinda funny. I mean, I was referencing a person from over a hundred years ago. Okay... if I offended anyone, I am sorry and I do hope nobody was hurt in the blaze. And I also hope that it wasn't set by someone and that the damage is minimal.

Sheila Hooper White 9 years, 4 months ago

punkrock- We also live on the east side and heard the helicopter. I don't think anyone has answered your question and they keep talking about the west side of town.

del888 9 years, 4 months ago

punkrockmom: I live by 6th and Kasold (very close to the fire station) and I have firetrucks go by my house all the time. I am also about 5 blocks from the hospital and see the helicopter all the time. I am glad that the LJW does not print every single item about police / fire calls. If they did, they would have to add another page to the paper. Not every police and fire call is 'news'.

rtwngr 9 years, 4 months ago

burp I thshot I heard shomethshing. burp I wazh gonna help zhem fight the fire, burp but zhey told me to zip it back up. Exchushe me.

Mixolydian 9 years, 4 months ago

I thought I smelled buring cascade. A citrusy aromatic morning in East Lawrence.

Julie Jacob 9 years, 4 months ago

Keating, so where is the story on the 2-3 alarm incident that happened in the 19th & Harper area last night around 1130? I saw at least 2 fire trucks.

somebodynew 9 years, 4 months ago

rubyshoes - OK, I admit I haven't been in there in awhile. I certainly hope you are correct and there have been major changes made. I don't want to see anyone suffer, especially brewers of good beer, which I like.Glad to get updated info. PS- it was still AB Coker when I was there.

been_there 9 years, 4 months ago

LJW-you might want to check the caption under the picture for errors.

Nikki May 9 years, 4 months ago

nope, that's not it, this was FRIDAY night I heard all the commotion and I live on the east side. I honestly was worried about home coming, but I'm sure that would make the news.

chapdaddy 9 years, 4 months ago

nooooooooooooooo!! must have Free State beer.....NOW!!!!!

mechman 9 years, 4 months ago

keating,dont know where you get your info BUT fire alarm sounded just after 6:00a.m.

John Spencer 9 years, 4 months ago

Jonathon,On Friday night there was a multi-car accident on 6th street about 10:45pm, I havent seen anything about it. With the number of police cars, I thought it would make the news but it didn't. Do you have any information on it?Thanks,~WAM

Deja Coffin 9 years, 4 months ago

lol watch out TheEleventh, you might get your comment deleted for bringing up Carry Nation.

somebodynew 9 years, 4 months ago

Hope everybody is and stays safe. Having worked there and seeing FD people come through to show new people I am sure that building is gone. It was old and built wrong (for safety) and unless somebody has spent a ton of money for improvments I don't think there is much the FD will be able to do. Of course, I think MasterCraft is still in the other half which probably has a high fire load also, so that won't help.

Jonathan Kealing 9 years, 4 months ago

mechman-I didn't have a good exact time when I first wrote, so I went with what I knew: it happened before 7 a.m. But I've got the right time and can update now. Thanks.Jonathan KealingOnline editor

justaverage 9 years, 4 months ago

Too bad they didn't have a sprinkler system. That might have helped. Excellent beer!

Poon 9 years, 4 months ago

I was very sad to hear about the fire. This put me in a sad mood this morning. That being said...Multi is back!!!!!!!!!!!!! Multi is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hip Hip Hooray Multi is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Poon 9 years, 4 months ago

Multi is back!!!!!!!!!!!!! Multi is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hip Hip Hooray Multi is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bangaranggerg 9 years, 4 months ago

I hate to hear about fires to property that's needing renovation. Such a shame. How much of an interest Did First Management have?

bangaranggerg 9 years, 4 months ago

that's a wildly inapropriate joke of an inference by me, actually I would suggest it's probably 23rd Street Brewery taking out the competition.

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