Skating rink destroyed in blaze

Friday, December 17th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) -- An apparent electrical problem sparked ablaze that destroyed the Roll-A-Way Rink that had been part of Shawnee's history for generations. The rink had just closed for the evening Thursday when the fire broke out.

Eight people were inside when the fire began and all escaped safely. "The people inside heard a crackling noise in the back and then saw visible flames," fire Chief James Roberts said. "They got everybody out and heard more crackling noises." The fire spread quickly through the building with its maple wood rink floor.

The preliminary investigation showed the fire may have been sparked by a power surge or an electrical short on the breaker panel in the northwest corner of the building, Code Enforcement Officer Mike Littrell said. Littrell said the fire is expected to smolder for several days.

Firefighters weren't sent into the building for fear that the roof would collapse. The roof and walls did collapse as the flames spread. "The electricity blinked once or twice and I knew something was wrong. Then all the electricity went off," said rink Manager Mark Lomax

Owner Bob Kennedy, who built the rink in 1954, stood by as a lifetime of memories went up in flames. "I wasn't ready to quit," Kennedy said. "We just celebrated our 50th anniversary -- I was looking forward to the next 50." Kennedy said he has insurance on the building, but the memories inside can never be replaced. "That's my life -- couldn't save a thing. Couldn't save a bloomin' thing."