Updated Wednesday, 12:25 pm.
The Manhattan Fire Department has released more information concerning Tuesday’s fire at Hale Library on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan kept over 70 fire and EMS personnel busy late Tuesday afternoon and into the evening.
KMAN News Director Brady Bauman interviewed MFD Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Almes about the fire Wednesday. That full audio can be heard below:Ryan Almes
According to a press release from MFD Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Almes, the fire occurred in the roof of the original Farrell Library, in an area containing several large air handling units and proved very difficult for firefighters to gain access to extinguish the fire. Damage estimates are not available at this time. Fire damage was limited to a portion of the roof, with extensive water and smoke damage throughout the structure.
Almes said the fire reached a third alarm before it was contained in approximately two hours and controlled in four hours.
“It was concerning to us early on that we had so much smoke inside the building,” Almes told KMAN via telephone later Wednesday. “It takes a lot of smoke to fill that volume. Crews made it up to the top and couldn’t find the fire on the interior and then eventually went to the roof, and found that the fire was actually under the roof membrane in the roof structure itself.
“There were some really large air-handling units that the fire was underneath, which caused some real difficulty for our crews to get underneath there and extinguish the fire.”
Almes said there is hope historical books and documents may have been saved.
“Preliminary reports that the books that were irreplaceable in the stacks that had some historical value weren’t damaged,” he said. “But we do know there was water throughout the building on all floors. The lowest floor had some considerable damage, but we just don’t know the extent of that yet. But smoke and water damage throughout the entire building.”
According to K-State news services, the Manhattan Fire Department was responded shortly after 4 p.m. for a call of reported smoke at the library and the building was safely evacuated. By 5:30 p.m. seven different fire departments were battling the blaze.
Riley County EMS Director David Adams told KMAN no injuries were reported.
Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Kansas Office of the State Fire Marshal, and the Manhattan Fire Department will be conducting the fire investigation. The fire cause is under investigation at this time.
No flames were visible Tuesday, however smoke billowed periodically as crews worked. By 6:24 p.m., K-State officials reported the fire was contained.
K-State Vice President for Communications and Marketing Jeffery Morris told Media crews responded to the library within minutes of the first reports of smoke and that the building was undergoing renovations at the time. Construction crews stood outside the building as firefighters attacked the blaze.
The library was in the early stages of a $6.5 million renovation.
The original Farrell Library portion where the fire occurred was built in the 1920s, according to KSU. Today, Hale Library is more than 400,000 square feet and has more than two million books in its collection.
Fort Riley Fire Department, Riley County Fire Department, Blue Township Fire Department, and Geary County Fire Department either assisted at the scene or backfilled City fire stations. Riley County EMS, Kansas State University Police Department, Riley County Emergency Management assisted, as well as Kansas State employees from fire prevention, facilities, and administration. The American Red Cross brought food and drinks to the scene as well. T
Facebook Live videos from the scene Tuesday afternoon can be viewed below: