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Sparks fly, interrupt dance class
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Main Street was blocked off for a time on Thursday night as the Great Bend Fire Department responded to the Dance by Design dance school, where a buildup of ice apparently caused electrical wires to spark and start a small fire.
Lee Ann Bashor, owner of the dance school, was teaching a class at the time, around 6:50 p.m.
“The lights started flickering like in a horror movie,” Bashor said. She went to the back of the building to investigate and found sparking wires that were heavily coated in ice. There was actually a small fire on the electric water heater, and she blew it out.
Everyone exited onto Main Street and in a few minutes the block was filled with fire trucks. By 7:05 p.m. all fires were out and firefighters were taking a fan inside to ventilate the building, where a light haze had settled.
Battalion Chief Eugene Perkins later told the Great Bend Tribune, that the small fire on the water heater was the only fire, and Bashor blew it out before firefighters arrived. While other buildings on Main Street extend back to an alley (with the Tribune on the west side of the alley), the dance school is in a shorter building. Perkins said a narrow passage runs from the back of the building to the alley, and that is where firefighters found a downed electrical wire and the source of the problem.
There are electrical lines and meters in the passageway. “A lot of it is covered with big sheets of ice,” Perkins said Thursday night. “The sun doesn’t get to that.”
Wheatland Electric company had a crew working in the alley past 10 p.m.
Other business owners in the block were contacted Thursday night and advised to check their buildings, but the dance school was the only one affected, Perkins said.
Several other people were downtown when the commotion began. As parents of dance students collected their children, there was no panic. Bashor agreed with a mother who said it was actually a good thing the fire had started when people were around to detect it.
She did wonder, however, if Great Bend’s dance schools are experiencing some “bad karma.” Nearly two months ago, on Dec. 18, a large chunk of the back southwest corner of the old opera house building at 2103 Forest tumbled to the ground. Later in the day, a city inspector declared the structure unsafe to occupy, forcing the renters, Euphoria Dance Studio and an apartment tenant, to move.