Foul play not ruled out for VFW fire, Winfield Fire Marshal says

Firefighters assess the damage from Sunday’s structure fire at the Winfield VFW building in the 100 block of E. 10th Monday. (Photo by Brady Bauman)

UPDATED: Monday, 2:08 p.m.

Foul play hasn’t been ruled out for a structure fire at the Winfield VFW Sunday, Winfield Fire Marshal Chad Mayberry told Cowley Post Monday afternoon.

Mayberry said progress continues on how and where the blaze started, but he wouldn’t elaborate on specifics until the investigation is complete.

“We have identified an area of origin,” Mayberry said.

It was a busy and hectic day for Winfield Fire/EMS Sunday.

The aftermath of a residential fire in the 1000 block of E. 9th in Winfield Monday morning. (Photo by Charles Osen)

Firefighters were first called to a residential fire in the 1000 block of E. 9th at approximately 2:30 p.m. Mayberry said when crews arrived, two adult males and a male toddler were already out of the three-story home.

Mayberry said it is believed the fire started in the kitchen, but an exact cause hasn’t yet been identified as of Monday. The home is considered a total loss and was tough for crews to fight due to the home’s age and “balloon construction” framing, Mayberry said.

“Fire gets in the wall chases and goes straight up to the attic,” he said.

According to, balloon-frame construction, built from the early 19th century until World War II, poses unique firefighting problems because it lacks horizontal fire stops between the studs inside of the exterior walls.

While firefighters were attending the blaze on East 9th, a fire was reported at the Winfield VFW not far away on the 100 block of E. 10th at roughly 4:30 p.m.

Mayberry said approximately 16 people were inside the VFW bar and safely evacuated.

In between the fire calls, Mayberry said Winfield Fire/EMS also received four medical calls.

“We had several big challenges,” he said.

Mayberry said the fire that engulfed the VFW building, built in 1900 according to county records, was difficult to extinguish for several reasons.

“It had multiple roofing layers, including metal, and the fire was trapped beneath it,” he said. “It was also difficult to access the attic or to get to the second floor because windows were boarded up.”

Those hurdles slowed firefighters’ ability to attack the blaze and because of that, water supply was a concern as the fight to contain the fire lingered on.

Mayberry said the fire department worked with the city water department to utilize different water mains to maximize water supply.

When areas of the building began to collapse, Mayberry said he wasn’t surprised.

“It was expected, because of the length of time the fire burned,” he said.

Crews fought to extinguish the fire the rest of the night and continued to monitor the building into the morning.

No injuries were reported for either fire, and the state fire marshal has been called to investigate both structures. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been called to assist in the investigation of the VFW fire — as is customary when a veteran’s organization is involved, both Mayberry and City Manager Taggart Wall said.

“We need to say thank you to all our mutual aide partners,” Mayberry said.

Crews from Ark City, Burden, Udall, Atlanta, Douglas, Mulvane, Belle Plaine, Wellington and Oxford combined to assist Sunday and at least 60 firefighters were involved, Mayberry said.

From Sunday: 9:32 p.m.:

Firefighters continue to stay on scene of a structure fire Sunday night that started earlier in the day at the Winfield VFW building in the 100 black of E. 10th. (Photo by Aimee Fowler)

The City of Winfield said Sunday night at 9:15 firefighters remain at the scene of a structure fire at the VFW building in the 100 block of E. 10th.

Some outside crews have been released from the scene. Power remains out for some in the area.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 4:38 p.m.

Before the fire at the VFW building, firefighters were dispatched to a house fire on E. 9th for a blaze that was believed to have started in the kitchen, according to authorities at the scene.

No injuries have been reported regarding either fire.

A statement from the city with the latest update on the downtown blaze can be read below:

Downtown Fire Update 9:15p.m.

Crews remain on scene with active fire. Many of the supporting agencies and departments have been released from the scene. We appreciate all the outside responders.

Electricity outages remain for 105 of the original 450 customers affected by the related outage. Crews expect to be able to restore power to most all remaining after active firefighting ends.

Fire crews will remain on scene throughout the evening into tomorrow and the fire will be under ongoing investigation with both local and outside assistance from the ATF—which is typical in a fire with a veteran related organization.

Citizens are asked to avoid the area and obey all traffic control.

8:28 p.m.

Firefighters continue to stay on the scene of a blaze at the Winfield VFW in the 100 block of E. 10th.

According to Winfield City Manager Taggart Wall via the city’s Facebook page Sunday night, the building was evacuated and no injuries have been reported.

Wall’s full statement below:

At approximately 4:38 PM in Winfield, Fire-EMS crews were dispatched to a building showing smoke at the 100 block of East 10th. The building was evacuated and no injuries are known. The building is commonly known as the home to the VFW.

There are nine fire departments responding from across the local area. Over 60 firefighters are on scene.

As of 7:00 PM the building remains an active fire and partially collapsed. The building is a standalone building and no other structures are affected at this time.

In response to the effort, the City of Winfield has put one circuit in outage affecting approximately 450 customers. Electric crew are working to isolate the area to bring as many other customers up as possible.

Media inquiries may be made to [email protected].

Further update will be provided before 9:00p.m.


Emergency crews respond to a structure fire on E. 10th Sunday afternoon in Winfield. (Photo by Valerie Whycough/Cowley County 911 Facebook group)

Winfield firefighters are responding to a structure fire Sunday afternoon at or near the VFW on E. 10th.

Its second structure fire Winfield Fire/EMS have been called to today.

Firefighters also responded to a residential blaze earlier in the day Sunday on the 1000 block of E. 9th.

More information will be added as soon as it becomes available.

Smoke bellows from a home on the 1000 block of E. 9th in Winfield Sunday afternoon. (Photo by Charles Osen)