An electrical problem in an open-office area is blamed for a fire that caused extensive damage to a commercial building in downtown Chadron Sunday night.
The Chadron Volunteer Fire Department spent more than 7 hours last night battling the fire in the 300 block of Main Street, successfully limiting it to the old Keith Spencer CPA office and keeping it from spreading to adjacent buildings.
Fire Chief Branden Martens said at the scene that the fire was called in about 7:00 PM and produced a lot of smoke, but not much flame as it smoldered in decades of paper files from the CPA office, which has been closed for several years.
Chief Martens says he doesn’t remember Chadron firefighters ever using as much oxygen on a call, with some individuals going through 6 or 7 bottles for their air packs.
Martens says the building received little structural damage from the fire, but he thinks it’s still likely a total loss because of interior smoke and water damage.
Main Street was closed between 3rd and 4th Streets until about 2:00 AM by fire equipment and for public safety.
The temperature was below freezing most of the time firefighters were on the scene and Martens says water from the trucks and hoses made for icy and slippery conditions on the street.
The Chadron department did not put out a mutual aid call, but Chief Martens said about 1:00 AM he sort of wished he had because his firefighters were getting tired by that point.