8-alarm blaze destroys house
Firefighters struggle for hours with frozen equipment
If subzero temperatures and snow didn’t make Monday morning miserable enough, frozen equipment made fighting a Lincolnville house fire all the harder for firefighters.
The Lincolnville home of David and Michelle August and their four college-aged children was utterly destroyed.
The nine-alarm house fire broke out at 8:13 a.m. Firefighters were summoned from Lincolnville, Marion, Herington, Tampa, Ramona, Hillsboro, Florence, and Durham. A page was sent out to Lost Springs firefighters, but no one responded.
Lincolnville fire chief Les Kaiser said 25 firefighters assisted the battle.
They spent an hour and a half bringing the fire under control, then were on the scene more than six additional hours.
Firefighters returned to the house at 7:30 p.m. Monday to extinguish a flare-up and douse heavily smoking debris. This time they were at the scene an hour and a half.
When Kaiser arrived at the fire, the 1½-story house was already engulfed.
“It was a defensive attack from the get-go,” Kaiser said. “From what we had when we got there, I’m happy with what we’ve got now.”
Snowpacked roads slowed the arrival of fire trucks from other towns, and subfreezing temperatures rendered primers on tanker trucks inoperable.
Primers are the equipment that suck water into tanks.
Despite efforts to thaw the primers with propane torches and boiling water, firefighters were unable to get water from nearby Centre school. Instead, they had to drive to Herington, more than 12 miles away, to fill the tankers.
Ambulances were sent from Tampa, Marion, and Dickinson County to treat people injured during the fire.
A 32-year-old family member was injured when he jumped off the roof of the burning house. He was taken to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita for treatment of a fractured ankle.
Another person on the scene had chest pains and six people suffered from smoke inhalation.
Only the back portion of the house remained standing by 3:30 p.m. The entire front of the house collapsed into a smoldering pile of rubble in the front yard.
The destroyed portion of the home included a living room, kitchen, and bedroom, Kaiser said.
Kaiser was not sure how the fire got started. That remains under investigation by a state fire marshal, he said.
During the battle, icicles formed on fire trucks and facial hair of firefighters, but Kaiser said firefighters were warm in their bunker gear.
If bunker gear gets wet in freezing temperatures, water freezes on the surface of the gear and blocks wind from reaching the firefighter’s skin.
Terri Bina is accepting donations to help the August family.
She is asking for Walmart gift cars, Amazon gift cards, and cash.
She asked that donations be sent to her at Centre school, 2374 310th St, Lost Springs KS 66859 or 1915 275th Rd, Marion KS 66861.
Monday’s fire wasn’t the only time firefighters faced freezing temperatures and snow during the previous week.
Heavy and wet snowfall Jan. 9 downed a power line in Lincolnville at 3 a.m. Firefighters blocked off two streets, then spent nearly two hours checking the town for fallen limbs broken off by the weight of snow.
A Goessel firefighter operating a backhoe helped clear a path for ambulances headed to an unconscious man foaming at the mouth, not breathing, and being given cardiopulmonary resuscitation in a barn near 80th and Eagle Rds. at 12:45 p.m. Jan. 9.
Hillsboro firefighters were summoned two times Sunday morning to false alarms at Tabor dormitories. The first time was a fire alarm at the California Hall triggered by steam from a shower. The second false alarm was caused by a burst hot water tank.
Marion firefighters were summoned Sunday to a false alarm in a home in the 1200 block of Denver St.
Last modified Jan. 17, 2024