(Harlan) An Apartment Complex in Harlan is a total loss following a massive fire Wednesday night. Harlan Fire Chief Roger Bissen says all eight people residing in the complex known as the Nielsen Apartments located at 707 Durant Street were able to get out of safely, but lost their homes. Bissen tells KSOM/KS95 News that one of the residents was treated for smoke inhalation.
The call came in at around 6:00 p.m.
“When we arrived on scene the fire was already venting out of a bay window in the living room area and there were personnel on the outside of the structure attempting to contain the fire as much as possible with extinguishers and anything they had available,” explained Chief Bissen. “We attempted to make an attack on the fire and soon realized that the fire had already spread from the first floor to the second floor and made it unsafe for our fire fighters to be inside the structure.”
Chief Bissen says after they went into there defensive mode their main concern was the business to the east, (Elite Sales Processing and City Hall to the west).
“That was our main focus… to keep those adjacent exposures protected and we were able to do that,” said Bissen. “The reason the fire spread so quickly is because of the construction that was used in the early 1900’s when this building was built. “It is more like a balloon type construction,” with no fire breaks between the two stories that will actually stop a fire. Once the fire gets in the walls it is going to travel from one story to the next very rapidly.”
The State Fire Marshall's Office has been called in to investigate.
The Harlan Fire Department was assisted by firemen from, Atlantic, Defiance, Earling, Elk Horn, Irwin, Avoca, Kirkman, and Westphalia.