UPDATE: According to Topeka Fire Marshal Todd Harrison, the cause of the fire at White Lakes Center remains unknown. However, investigators can’t rule out that the cause may be related to homeless traffic.
The team estimates the mall suffered $100,000 in damages. There were no working smoke detectors in the mall.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Shawnee County Crime Stoppers at (785) 234-0007.
TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The City of Topeka says it recently condemned the White Lakes mall building before Tuesday morning’s fire, after past citations went unfixed.
City spokeswoman Molly Hadfield said Topeka firefighters haven’t determined the cause of the mall fire yet, but crews are investigating at this time. She also said the mall’s structure was in good condition, “with no threat of collapse or even serious deterioration” before the fire. However, video from KSNT Sky Tracker II shows firefighters battling a fire from a collapsed portion of the roof.
The city’s Code Compliance division issued citations in the past before the city condemned the White Lakes Center on Aug. 24, according to Hadfield. A condemnation order does not require the demolition of the building but does require certain corrections to the property before anyone can go inside or home businesses there.
There have been multiple inquiries over the years to purchase and rehab the building. The city cannot force the owner to sell the property. The reinvestment in the property is the preferred end result. The City of Topeka continues to work with the owner and potential buyers to get the property rehabilitated, or sold to a different owner who will demolish or rehabilitate the building.Molly Hadfield, City of Topeka