Restoration company begins cleanup at Sterling House

Sterling House management is determining whether to rebuild in Emporia after a devastating fire.

The facility was listed as a total loss after fire destroyed most of the south wing. The building has been fenced off as cleanup begins. Brookside, the Sterling House parent company, has brought in a property restoration firm to handle the work. A timeline for the work has not been detailed.

A spokesperson says there will be no further updates on a potential rebuild until the review process is complete. There is no word on how long that review process could take or what factors will be considered.

Meanwhile, the fast action of several people is again being credited for saving lives at Sterling House.

During KVOE's 8:05 am newscast Monday, Emporia Fire Chief Jack Taylor said 21 residents were whisked to safety as fire began building in the assisted living facility late Friday night. Another 24 from Kenyon Square nearby were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

{wbty_audio audio_id="4809" audio_title="Taylor: Glad everybody is safe"}

Taylor credited the fast response of firefighters and law enforcement for making sure the Sterling House residents were safe.

{wbty_audio audio_id="4810" audio_title="Taylor: Could have been a nightmare"}

Reports of passersby helping the effort are currently unconfirmed.

Taylor says it appears there was some sort of fireworks display at Sterling House. It's unclear who gathered the fireworks remnants and put them in a plastic "tote," but the materials smoldered and eventually caught both the tote and a wall on fire.

Taylor anticipates more discussion about Emporia's fireworks ordinance after the Sterling House fire and two house fires, one of which was also rooted in the improper disposal of fireworks at 2922 Sutton and one of which was caused by the careless disposal of smoking materials at 1519 Watson. Taylor says fireworks are "inherently" dangerous but he says it's far too early to say what firefighters may suggest for possible changes.

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