Massive fire destroys Lawrence hotel

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) — A massive fire raged through a Lawrence hotel all afternoon and firefighters expect remain on the scene for what will be bitterly cold night.

(WIBW/Shawn Wheat)

Flames tore through the America's Best Value Inn, near the 6th and Iowa intersection, sending smoke and flames towering over the three-story structure and, eventually, bringing down large sections of the building's walls.

Firefighters called the blaze one of the larger ones in the city's recent history.

Fortunately, as of 6 p.m., they were able to report no firefighters nor anyone in the hotel at the time were hurt. One firefighter suffered a brief scare, falling through the roof less than an hour after crews first arrived at the hotel, but was uninjured.

Emergency crews were first called to the hotel shortly before noon on Monday. They initially attacked the flames, but around 1 p.m. changed tactics and took a defensive position, only trying to contain the fire from outside the structure and making sure it didn't spread to nearby buildings.

Around 6:30 p.m., the fire department said they were transitioning to their night procedures and keeping an eye out for hot spots. They expect to be out there all night, even as the mercury drops into the single digits (and maybe even further). They added that not only are the freezing temps rough for everyone there, they are also hard on all of the equipment.

After making it through the night, they plan to perform another assessment in the light of the day Tuesday morning.