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Easter fire at motel requires evac; no injuries or big damage

Apr 24, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Guests at the Tomahawk Motor Lodge in Riverton had to evacuate their rooms on Easter Sunday after a fire began in the motel's basement laundry room.

No one was injured during the incident, which was reported at about 6:15 p.m. Sunday from the motel in the 200 block of East Main Street. Business owner Sarah Kalbach is listed as the reporting party; in the initial report she said she was evacuating the property.

Riverton Volunteer Fire Department chief Mike Hutchison said the blaze began near two commercial dryers.

"It came right from that area, so we suspect a malfunction of one of the dryers is what caused it," he said Wednesday.

When crews arrived at the scene, he said "fairly heavy"

smoke was coming from the basement room on the northeast end of the property. One team entered the basement in an attempt to locate the source of the fire.

"They were able to find it pretty quickly and get it knocked down," Hutchison said. "They were able to get to it before it completely involved the entire room."

While firefighters were in the basement, he said they discovered that flames had started to travel through a laundry chute toward the main floor of the building. A second crew entered the building from the ground level to extinguish that portion of the blaze.

Hutchison said visibility in the motel was low throughout the event due to heavy, black smoke.

"It took a while to get the smoke all ventilated," he said. "Then we were there on scene for quite a while just making sure (the fire) was out."

The basement laundry room was moderately damaged, he continued, and the smoke affected several guest rooms above the space. Hutchison guessed that the two large dryers involved were destroyed, but he added that the motel did not sustain any structural damage.

"There was some charring to some floor joists above, but it wasn't severe," he said.

The Riverton Police Department blocked Main Street and Second Street East while the incident was ongoing.

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