‘The building is not totally secure’: Councilmember weighs in on the damaged Treatco building

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Should the old Treatco building in north Wichita be demolished or allowed to remain to stand?

City and county officials across various departments held an internal meeting Tuesday to discuss this very topic less than two weeks after crews responded to a fire at the building, where they monitored it for several days.

“We have a water supply problem. We have a building security problem. We have a structural instability problem,” said Deputy Fire Chief Stu Bevis with the Wichita Fire Department. “There are very limited areas where we feel safe sending crews, which causes a big issue because we want to go in and mitigate the situation.”

Deputy Chief Bevis described fighting this fire like an uphill battle.

“It is not a simple situation. This is not a single-dwelling (home) with a little bit of fire damage. This is a pretty large commercial structure that makes it very difficult,” he explained.

“The building is not totally secure, which is one of the violations,” councilwoman Cindy Claycomb said.

The damaged building is located in councilwoman Cindy Claycomb’s district. On Tuesday afternoon, she met with multiple departments including the Wichita Fire Department, Wichita Police Department, and Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department to see what steps need to be taken to secure the building and hold the owner accountable for the plant and the property — and most importantly, to keep first responders safe.

“We will make those citations, try to get access to the building, and then, we will go from there,” Claycomb said. “I believe the citations will go out this week.”

Claycomb believes the owners of the damaged structure would have to pay over a million dollars just for the demolition alone. She would prefer to see the building brought to the ground rather than it be unsafe in its current state.

“I would be happy if the building would just come down at some point. It is not serving any purpose that I can see right now,” Claycomb said.

Deputy Chief Bevis agrees with Claycomb but also realizes that it could be a very costly project, and it could take a long time before that point would be even reached.

“I think that unless the building owner can find some kind of way to structurally secure the building — that is going to be one of the biggest things to try and aim towards,” Bevis said. “But it’s not just a simple solution, I could not imagine what it would take to actually demolish that structure.”

KSN has attempted multiple times to reach the owner of the building but hasn’t been able to yet.

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