There were times all Great Bend Fire Department personnel could do Thursday afternoon was stand back and watch as a house southeast of Great Bend burned. Although everyone had gotten out safely, authorities said the house was a total loss.
A lack of water once halted the battle to save the home of Shawn Crane Jr., 144 SE 20 Ave. Pumper trucks from the Ellinwood, Hoisington and Stafford fire departments were called to bring water as GBFD trucks shuttled back and forth from hydrants in Great Bend.
These are some of the challenges of fighting a fire in a rural area, Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano said at the scene. By the time his crews arrived, the fire had penetrated the structure’s attic.
At about 1:20 p.m. when the call first came in, flames were shooting out of the roof. Even with a good supply of water established, in less than an hour, the firefighters retreated to a defensive position as they tried to knock down the fire and save surrounding structures.
Thick black and gray smoke roiled from the home and the intense heat could be felt as far as the middle of the yard. The roof started to sag in places, then collapse in a ball of flames.
Smoke and fire seeped through just about every crack in the house. Melted siding dangled from the exterior walls.
Firefighters came in and out of the fight, emerging for a new bottle of oxygen or a bottle of water.
Although most firefighters left the scene by late afternoon, some remained.
Napolitano said it was too early to determine a cause. The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office was contacted and the investigation started Thursday night.
The Barton County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the effort.