Smoke empties Wichita Eagle building downtown

Oil on an overheated pump in the press room at The Wichita Eagle caused enough smoke to draw fire crews Monday afternoon, though there was no fire in the building, according to a fire department official.

More than 30 firefighters and a dozen engines and trucks responded to a report of a possible fire at The Eagle, 825 E. Douglas, at about 5:15 p.m. When crews arrived, they found smoke in the basement, caused by oil burning on an electric motor pump, Wichita fire battalion chief Ernie Schuler said.

The pump, located on the north side of the building, supports an inserting machine, said Cindy Trenary, vice president of operations for The Eagle.

Employees were evacuated at about 5:30 p.m. They were allowed to return to work at about 6:20 p.m. after fire crews used a ventilator to draw the smoke out of the basement. Eastbound traffic on Douglas was blocked for about an hour during the incident.

Smoke damage to the building and newsprint, which is stored in the basement, is minimal, Trenary said. Employees in the building to repair a leaky air hose on a press noticed the smoke before more serious damage occurred.

“It was a lot of people thinking quick,” she said.