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Masonic Lodge blaze considered suspicious

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State fire investigators are looking into a fire that destroyed an outdoor kitchen at the Nineveh Masonic Lodge on Thursday night.

Officials think the fire is suspicious because of the burn patterns, Nineveh Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Woehlecke said.

The fire department, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and state fire marshal are investigating the cause of the fire, Woehlecke said.

Firefighters arrived at the lodge about 11:45 p.m. and said a fire had engulfed an outdoor kitchen at the back of the building where the lodge had fish fries. Flames were starting to spread to the kitchen in the lodge’s basement, Woehlecke said.

The firefighters had the fire under control in 10 minutes, he said, but the blaze destroyed the outdoor kitchen and caused smoke damage to the lodge’s basement and first floor.

Woehlecke said the lodge, at 7221 S. Nineveh Road, also lost several fryers and grills in the fire.

No one was injured in the fire, he said.

The lodge plans to shut down until the back kitchen is rebuilt and the smoke damage inside the building is fixed, lodge master Tom Pritchard Jr. said. Members will meet at another lodge until the repairs are complete, which could take until February, he said.

About 195 Masons are members of the lodge, which has been on Nineveh Road since the 1960s, lodge secretary Mike Duncan said. The members meet at the lodge once a month and plan fundraisers for members and local communities, Duncan said.

The last meeting the members had was Wednesday. No one from the lodge was in the building when the fire started, Duncan said.

He said the equipment, including fryers and grills, had not been used since a fundraiser in mid-October.

Anyone with information on the fire should call the sheriff’s office at 736-5155.

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