A Lawrence firefighter fell through the floor on Monday afternoon while battling a large fire at a Lawrence hotel just off of Interstate 70.
Lawrence Fire Department Division Chief James King said the fire was reported at 11:48 a.m. at America’s Best Value Inn at 515 McDonald Drive. As of about 6 p.m., smoke and flames were still showing.
The firefighter wasn’t injured when he fell through the floor and was quickly rescued, but crews took on a defensive strategy — meaning attacking the fire from the outside — shortly after.
The first crew arrived at 11:55 a.m. and saw smoke showing.
The crew began attacking the fire on the first floor, then in the basement.
At 12:09 p.m., additional resources were requested. By 12:11 p.m., the Lawrence Fire Department confirmed all the occupants were out of the structure.
Mutual aid from Overland Park, Lenexa and Wakarusa was called for at 12:23 p.m.
Crews battled the blaze in a defensive position from about 1 p.m. and into the evening. At around 3 p.m., crews noticed more structural weaknesses and took the appropriate safety measures, King said.
No injuries have been reported in the fire.
The cold temperatures in the area played a factor in extinguishing the blaze.
“It’s really hampered us,” King said, adding equipment and gear was freezing.
Crews were rotating so they could get food, water and warm up.
At 5 p.m. in Lawrence, the air temperature was 11 degrees while the wind chill was negative 6 degrees, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Bryan Baerg.
An investigation has been initiated and residents are being interviewed.
There was no immediate indication of cause of the fire. It wasn’t immediately known how many people were in the hotel.
Nearby buildings weren’t affected. Bryan Newton, who lives in an apartment complex to the immediate west of the hotel, said he looked out his window and “everything was on fire.”
He said he had never seen such a large blaze and witnessing it was “crazy.”
Southbound traffic on McDonald Drive which turns into Iowa was blocked and diverted onto Rockledge Road. Emergency vehicles lined McDonald Drive, Rockledge Road and were parked in several nearby apartment and business parking lots.
This breaking news story is developing and will be updated.