By Zach Hacker
Emporia Gazette – March 21, 2017
Firefighters from throughout the area were called to a fire located inside the Lyon County Highway Department building on South Prairie Street Monday evening.
The fire — which was reported at 7:08 p.m. Monday — was later discovered to be coming from a tractor inside the garage that had been brought in for repairs. The machinery was damaged, but firefighters were able to stop the fire from spreading and causing extensive damage to the building — which is located in the 500 block of South Prairie Street and is commonly referred to as the "Road and Bridge building." Nobody was inside the building when the fire started.
Emporia Fire Department Battalion Chief Rich Gould said when crews arrived; they found heavy, black smoke billowing from small vents in the roof of the structure and out of the large overhead doors. Firefighters were able to enter the structure through the overhead doors and found a tractor was on fire and quickly extinguished the flames.
"We believe it was limited to the tractor," Gould said. "When we got in there, there was thick, black smoke from the 14-foot-high ceiling clear to the ground."
Once the source fire was knocked down, crews began looking for any extension fires that may have existed. Gould said he was confident they contained the blaze to the tractor. If they had not, it could have been much worse. Gould said there were two large barrels of oil nearby, but he believed the fire had not quite reached them.
Jim Brull, assistant to the Lyon County Engineer, said beside the oil drums there was also an oil-burning stove on the east side of the building that was used for heat during the winter.
He said the tractor, which the county uses for mowing, was just brought into the garage for repairs earlier in the day Monday. He could only speculate as to what caused the fire.
"From what I understand, it was brought in because of some electrical problems, so it might stem from that," Brull said. "But we're not sure yet."
Still, he was relieved the fire wasn't bigger than it was.
"It could have been a heck of a lot worse," Brull said.