New facts revealed from Mills apartment fire

Mills apartment fire details
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 5:40 PM CST
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MILLS, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - It’s been eight months since a massive fire broke out at an apartment complex in Mills.

Back in March, fire departments from both Mills and Casper responded to a third floor apartment fire. Luckily, the building was still under construction and no tenants had moved in yet. With a storm approaching, some builders laid wooden doors in a hallway to keep them dry. And Mills Fire Chief Wil Gay says that’s when things went wrong.

“The heater kicked on, which ultimately started the doors on fire,” Gay says. “And then that fire led to burning through the natural gas line that was feeding the heater. So ultimately we ended up with a gas-fed fire in that breezeway.”

After the gas was shut off, the next problem was water but... it didn’t have anything to do with the hydrants. Gay says it had to do with the system the hydrants are hooked up to.

“I believe at that time we were hooked to four different hydrants, but all those hydrants were on the same loop... with what’s called the low-pressure system (here) in Mills. And that tank off of Poison Spider Road is only a 200,000 gallon tank. And with the master streams we were running trying to contain the fire, we were drawing down that tank faster than what it could refill.”

They then had a truck relocate over a quarter-mile away to run on Mills’ high pressure water system. One other factor in this perfect storm of a fire? No sprinklers.

“The building was designed to be sprinklered,” Gay explains. “However, because it was still under construction and no heat in the buildings, the sprinkler system couldn’t be activated. So now, the second building, it is operational and has people living in it. It has an active sprinkler system and an active alarm system.”

After 26 hours, two water systems, and 1,500 feet of water hose... the fire crews were finally able to contain the fire.