Fire chars downtown Lander building; two injured

Aug 2, 2017 By Kelli Ameling, Staff Writer

A familiar downtown Lander building was destroyed by fire Tuesday. Two firefighters were injured during the 10-hour suppression effort.

The fire call at 201 Main in Lander came in just before 8 a.m. Tuesday. The building housed the New York Life Insurance office on the ground floor and had several apartments upstairs. Everyone inside the building escaped safely, although one occupant needed a ladder supplied by the Lander Volunteer Fire Department.

The Riverton Volunteer Fire Department was called to assist. An RVFD firefighter injured his shoulder during the firefight, and a Lander fireman sustained an ankle injury. Neither injury was thought to be serious.

LVFD fire chief Mike Coyne said residents of the apartments initially were escaping through the back door on the second level. As the fire intensified, flames and smoke blocked that escape route, requiring the ladder for one man.

A resident of the building, Brian Jeffery, described the inside of the building as being like "a volcano" with smoke and fire engulfing his apartment.

It took about five hours for firefighters to knock down the blaze. Coyne said the task was complicated because of numerous interior remodels.

The cause is under investigation. Fire investigator Eric Siwik of the Wyoming Fire Marshal's Office said an insurance investigator will assist with that effort.

Coyne said there were about 40 firefighters from five departments at the scene in Lander. In addition to the Riverton department, agencies assisting LVFD were Fremont County Fire Protection District Battalion 3 - Lander Rural, FCFPD Battalion 10 - Hudson, RVFD, Lander Police Department, Fremont County Sheriff's Office and Guardian EMS.

Crews were on scene for about 10 hours.

Main Street between First and Third streets were closed to traffic in both directions for a majority of event. Just before 5 p.m., Main Street partially opened to traffic, traffic generally back to normal by 6 p.m.

Red Cross assisting

Red Cross of Wyoming is assisting three adults after the fire. Assistance was provided for temporary lodging and other immediate needs. Further assistance will be provided as needed.

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