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Officers, Inmates Flee When Fire Erupts At Police Headquarters

May 20, 1988

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A fire that began in the chief’s office at police headquarters forced the evacuation of the department and the city jail, disrupted police communications and injured 10 people.

The fire Thursday night caused an estimated $1.2 million damage to the eight-story downtown building, officials said.

The blaze began in Chief Larry Joiner’s fifth-floor office as workers remodeling the office were spraying lacquer on the walls, Fire Capt. Joe Galetti said today. The workmen tried to battle the flames with fire hoses and extinguishers, then called for help.

The blaze was brought under control in about 90 minutes, Galetti said.

About 115 people were evacuated fifteen minutes after the fire started, including 39 prisoners held in the eighth-floor temporary holding jail.

The prisoners were led down nine flights of stairs to the basement, then transferred to holding cells in the nearby Municipal Courts building and the Jackson County jail.

The fire caused disruption in police communications system and in telephone calls to headquarters. Calls that couldn’t be handled by headquarters were automatically routed to other police and fire stations.

Those taken to hospitals included one prisoner, four firefighters and four police department employees, all treated for smoke inhalation, and one police employee who had a minor shoulder injury. Many other people were treated at the scene.

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