Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Christmas toys destroyed by fire

December 1, 1999

"Santa's Workshop" was one of the facilities damaged on Saturday by a fire at Lansing Correctional Facility's woodworking factory.

The fire was reported at 8:29 p.m. Saturday. It was extinguished about eight hours later.

The fire was caused by a blower motor in the engineering maintenance building that had overheated, according to prison representative Bill Lucas. No injuries were reported.

Sixty-one inmates work in the woodworking factory, but the factory is closed on Saturdays. Maximum-security inmates work in "Santa's Workshop" to make wooden toys.

"Santa's Workshop" was one of the main areas damaged in Saturday's blaze. All materials to make toys this season were destroyed.

Usually, the toys that inmates make are donated to Head Start and the Alliance Against Family Violence. But this Christmas, those agencies will not be able to enjoy the normal donations.

"Usually every year they donate toys to us," said John Rourk, manager of the Alliance Against Family Violence. "We really look forward to it."

Last year "Santa's Workshop" donated between 500 and 600 different toys to the shelter's daycare. Toys donated include rocking horses, cars, trains, airplanes and puzzles.

Rourk said workers at the agency were a little let down to hear about the fire. Now, they need to find other avenues to obtain toys.

"The prison was one of our main contributors," Rourk said.

Head Start had not been officially notified about receiving toys this year, but were hoping to receive more, said Faith Spencer, director of Head Start in Leavenworth.

"We're sad to hear about the fire," Spencer said. "Hopefully they can restore it."

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