Fire: Pizza Place and Coffee Shoppe
EARLY MORNING FIRE CLAIMS TWO LOCAL BUSINESSES
Firefighters battled a blaze that caused extensive damage to a centerpiece of the Lusk business community during the early hours on Wednesday, Oct 2. The Lusk Volunteer Fire Department was alerted at approximately 2:45 a.m., when a dispatch received a phone call reporting a fire in back of the Pizza Place, 218 South Main Street. Firefighters arrived on the scene at roughly 2:50 a.m. Responding units included a town pumper, a county pumper, a city ladder truck, a water tender from Niobrara County Road and Bridge, and 13 firefighters. Battling the fire, says Lusk Fire Chief John Eddy, proved to be a daunting task. "It was one of the more difficult fires we had," Eddy told The Herald. "Luckily we had the equipment and personnel needed to fight it, considering the conditions."
Firefighters conducted a search of the Pizza Place for any occupants, entering the business establishment through the front. Following the search, firefighters withdrew from the building and began attacking the fire from the street, using water to push the flames to the back of the business establishment.
When efforts on the street failed, a different strategy was employed. One of the pumpers and the ladder truck began spraying the flames from the front of the building, while the second pumper began saturating the back of the business establishment. All three vehicles employed deluge cannons in the effort. Containment, says Eddy, was the goal. "At that point, we were just trying to keep the fire from spreading to the other buildings on Main Street", said Eddy. The fire was brought under control at approximately 3 a.m. While the fire was isolated to the Pizza Place's upstairs living area, serious damage was sustained throughout the business structure. During the fire, the ceiling collapsed in on the Pizza Place's dining area, making it extremely difficult for firefighters to extinguish parts of the structure that were still smoldering.
"Structurally, the Pizza Place was a complete loss," said Eddy. "The damage was pretty extensive."
The blaze also claimed the Coffee Shoppe, 216 South Main Street, as a victim. According to Coffee Shoppe owner Teri Stephens, smoke and water damage can now be found through out the business establishment. The damage sustained has left the Coffee Shoppe without a home. The future of the business establishment, says Stephens, is uncertain. "There is no way I will be opening there in the near future," Stephens told the Herald. "It is a terrible loss for everybody. But we're thankful that no one was hurt and everybody was okay." Firefighters remained on the scene until 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Investigators determined that the fire began in the back of the building on the second floor. While a report on the findings of the investigation is not yet available, Eddy stated that the fire was "accidental."
The community will be participating in a "Help Our Neighbor Day", on Sun., Oct 13 at one p.m. "The purpose is to help clean out the main floor of the Pizza Place and the Coffee Shoppe. People are asked to bring pickups, shovels, masks, boots as well as an abundance of strength and energy. this will probably be just one of several times this is done, so if you are unable to attend this time but still would like to help, more information will be forthcoming. Those attending are asked to sign in when they arrive so hours may be logged. there is also a need of people to assist in counting inventory.
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