Crews staying through the night to monitor North Newton fire

(Photo courtesy Michelle Solomon)
(Photo courtesy Michelle Solomon)

NORTH NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Crews in Harvey County are still on the scene of a fire at a co-op.

It started around 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the 1900 block of N. Main Street in North Newton.

Newton Fire Chief Scott Metzler said the fire is under control but does continue to flare up and smolder. Metzler said the storage building that caught fire was filled, top to bottom with compressed materials used for recycling.

Newton resident Lashay Rhodes was with her two sons when they noticed something wasn’t right.

“He had his girlfriend that was recording some and sending him some pictures, at that point we were getting ready for dinner and I was like let’s go see how it is doing,” said Rhodes.

Rhodes said when she got to the area she saw something she’s never seen before.

“It was a lot of smoke, a lot of dark smoke, the flames you could see picking up from the backside of the building a little bit and that’s what we’ve been watching,” explained Rhodes.

Erin McDaniel, spokeswoman for the City of Newton, said the building is a storage building that is full of bales of recyclable materials, like plastics fortunately she said there is nothing hazardous in the building.

McDaniel admits this fire in particular brought some challenges.

“Because of the structural damage to the building, our firefighters have had to take a defensive position outside the building, it takes longer and makes it more difficult to fight the fire, but it is certainly the most safe position for our firefighters to be in,” added McDaniel.

McDaniel said the fire also posed a safety concern. She said people who were nearby were pushed back to a safe area, concerned that the building could potentially explode.

“Explosions are always a fear when you are talking about grain elevators, luckily in this fire the fire is contained to the storage building adjacent to the elevator and the grain elevator itself is stable,” said McDaniel.

McDaniel said there were no reports of any injuries and fortunately none of the materials inside the building pose a health risk to any nearby residents.

As for Rhodes, she’s sticking around and keeping a close eye on the fire.

“We just wanted to make sure everyone was okay,” said Rhodes.

Chief Metzler said calling for an evacuation was in the forefront of their minds tonight, if it did in fact spread to the grain elevator. He said they will have firefighters on the scene all night, monitoring the situation with the plan being to bring operations inside the building Friday and try to determine what exactly caused this fire.

Original Story:

Fire crews from multiple departments are on the scene of a building fire in North Newton.

According to Harvey County authorities, the fire is in a building on the Co-Op campus at 1911 N. Main in North Newton. The grain elevator is not on fire.

Several agencies, including Hesston Fire, Newton Fire, North Newton Fire and Newton PD are all on the scene working to get the fire under control and keep drivers, residents and anyone nearby away from the active area.

Erin McDaniel, spokeswoman for the City of Newton, said the building is a storage building that is full of bales of recyclable materials, like plastics fortunately she said there is nothing hazardous in the building.

No injuries have been reported at this time. It is unclear what started the fire.

KSN has a crew on the scene. More details will be provided once they become available.