[cifnmedia] Mason City Fire

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 4 Mar 2004 07:40:11 -0800 (PST)


Mason City Motel fire burns manager 
Jail escapee among those fleeing flames 


MASON CITY - One person was burned and many people displaced from their homes 
at the Mason City Motel when it caught fire this morning. 

Mason City Police Chief David Coulter said preliminary reports indicated the 
fire started in the chair in which motel manager Mary P. Smith was sitting 
while smoking and using oxygen. She was taken by Mason County Ambulance to the 
burn unit at Memorial Medical Center, Springfield.

In an unrelated development, a 70-year-old escapee of the Sangamon County Jail, 
Eugene Kinzel, was caught fleeing the burning building. He is not connected 
with the fire.

"We had information a month ago that he was around here," said Mason City 
Assistant Police Chief Ken Beard, who was off duty but responded to the fire 
next door to his home.

Kinzel was arrested on the warrant for his escape, which dates to 2001. No 
further information was available. He was taken the Mason County Jail with 
plans to transfer him to Sangamon County.

The motel - which has 10 apartment units - is on Illinois Route 10 across from 
Illini Central Schools. Illinois Department of Transportation workers diverted 
traffic off the main route as fire hoses crossed the highway.

While walking the halls of Illini Central Grade School this morning, Principal 
Chad Allaman saw smoke and people coming from the building about 8:35 a.m. and 
radioed the school office to report the fire.

"By the time the police arrived, it was smoking heavily," Allaman said. He and 
other witnesses heard a loud pop as the front attic area of the motel popped 
open behind the "Motel" sign mounted on the building and flames shot out 
briefly. That was followed by great smoke. 

In addition to Mason City's fire department, Easton, New Holland and Greenview 
volunteer firefighters responded with trucks. The horn was sounded for retired 
firefighters to assist and many came forward. 

The fire continued to burn within the building late this morning, but with no 
apparent danger to nearby homes. The roof of the one-story brick structure had 
collapsed in places and the building appeared gutted.

The Rev. Bill Boyce said plans are underway to collect money for the 25 motel 
residents at tomorrow's Lenten Lunch at the Legion Hall. The youngest resident 
is 3 weeks old.

Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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