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Blaze erupts at former bus terminal, Pickwick hotel in downtown Kansas City

A fire Wednesday in the former Pickwick Building and Union Bus Terminal at Ninth and McGee streets spewed heavy smoke, but firefighters arrived quickly and “made a great save on a historic structure,” a fire official said.
A fire Wednesday in the former Pickwick Building and Union Bus Terminal at Ninth and McGee streets spewed heavy smoke, but firefighters arrived quickly and “made a great save on a historic structure,” a fire official said. mdavis@kcstar.com

One hundred or more workers restoring a historic building in downtown Kansas City had to be evacuated Wednesday morning when a fire broke out among construction materials.

The fire in the former Pickwick Building and Union Bus Terminal at Ninth and McGee streets spewed heavy smoke, but there were no injuries.

“They made a great save on a historic structure,” Deputy Chief James Garrett said of firefighters.

Part of the movie “In Cold Blood” was filmed in the lobby of the former Pickwick Plaza Hotel.

One hundred or more workers restoring a historic building in downtown Kansas City had to be evacuated Wednesday morning when a fire broke out among construction materials. The fire in the former Pickwick Building and Union Bus Terminal at Ninth an

The fire was reported at 8:34 a.m., and fire crews arrived within three minutes, Garrett said.

Firefighters had to break through windows in a parking garage that is part of the complex to reach the flames, a worker said.

The fire started on an upper floor of the old bus terminal section. It apparently started when a spark from work being done by the rehab crew ignited plastic wrapping around air conditioning conduits, said Tom Smith, the Pickwick redeveloper.

“There was a lot of smoke, but everyone got out and the fire was put out immediately,” said Smith, with Overland Park-based Gold Crown Properties.

The developer said later Wednesday that crews will return Thursday and the fire will not cause any delay in the project.

Patrick Delaney with Pishny Restoration Services, who was working on windows on the second floor, said there were workers from several different trades all over the building. They were sent home for the day.

“Everything was calm,” Delaney said. “Nobody panicked.”

The 85-year-old Pickwick Plaza complex, which occupies nearly an entire block, includes a distinctive facade facing McGee Street. Smoke left black soot marks on the facade.

The $65 million renovation project is turning the complex into apartments and office space.

Smith said that the project is insured but that damage was minimal.

“There’s virtually nothing left in there to burn,” he said.

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford

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