Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Cindy Glasson
Reporter Photographer 

Minimal damage from museum fire


Mark Dykes

The Thermopolis Volunteer Fire Department hauls out fixtures damaged by a fire at Hot Springs County Museum Friday morning.

Although the official cause of the fire last Friday morning at the Hot Springs County Museum and Cultural Center has not been released by fire authorities, the commissioners heard some of the details of the fire from maintenance supervisor Anthony Fruciano.

Fruciano said the fire department's initial assumption is that it was a chemical fire that started under the sink in the breakroom just to the right of the building's entrance.

What combination of chemicals was under the sink is still to be determined, but it is possible the fire itself actually started through spontaneous combustion of steel wool that was stored there.

They do know it started at 6:12 a.m. thanks to security camera footage that pinpointed the exact time it began.

The fire in the cabinet under the sink melted the water pipes under the sink, allowing the water to flow freely for a couple of hours before anyone discovered it.

Varney Clean Care from Worland was on the scene by noon on Friday to clean up the mess, pulling the water from the carpeting and getting things dried out. At this time, they are checking to see if the carpets can be cleaned and brought back to their original shape as some ares became discolored.

Fruciano said it was amazing more damage wasn't done, especially in the basement.

Photo courtesy of Nina Webber

The fire at the Hot Springs County Museum began under the sink in the museum's breakroom. It's assumed it began due to a combustion of chemicals.

"We went downstairs and it was like waterfalls coming from the ceiling," he said. "There would be this waterfall and then a display and then another waterfall. The water missed all of the displays. It was amazing."

Emergency Management coordinator Bill Gordon told the commissioners the awareness level for the river will be moved to yellow with an increase in the release from Boysen on Wednesday morning to 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs).

Folks shoud use caution on the river at the yellow level and be sure to wear personal flotation devices.

Gordon also informed the commissioners they will be pumping the diesel fuel out of the emergency generator at the alternate law enforcement center and refilling it with fresh just to be on the safe side.

The old fuel can still be used by the road and bridge department in their vehicles or in their heater at the shop, so it will not go to waste.


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