RICHMOND — The home of former state Sen. John Lackey was damaged by a fire in Richmond's historic district Tuesday.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately known, but it appeared to have started in the basement. The fire also caused a major traffic detour as police blocked a portion of Lancaster Avenue across from Eastern Kentucky University.
Investigators were working to determine a cause. No one was injured.
Lackey could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The house and its surrounding 5-acre lot at 536 Lancaster Avenue are assessed at $250,000, according to the Web site of the Madison County property valuation administrator.
Smoke was reported coming from the house shortly before noon Tuesday, said Corey Lewis, public information officer for the Richmond Fire Department.
"Our first arriving officers on scene reported smoke coming from the rear of the structure," Lewis said. "Firefighters were able to gain entry into the basement, where there seemed to be a significant amount of smoke and fire ... ."
The fire was knocked down quickly. "However, with this type of older type of house, there's a lot of void spaces," Lewis said, "and they run from the basement all the way to the attic. So the fire had extended into those spaces from the basement to the first and second floors and even into the attic.
"We really had to spend a lot of time chasing the fire down in those void spaces."
While the second floor sustained little damage from fire and smoke, firefighters had to punch holes in the second-floor ceiling and in the roof to gain access to the flames.
"There is some significant fire damage to the roof, to the attic area and to the basement," Lewis said.
"This home contained a lot of valuables, had a lot of antiques and a lot of rare artwork," Lewis said. "Our crews got that stuff outside to keep our damage to a minimum."
Lackey, a Richmond lawyer, was a member of the state Senate in the 1970s and ran a close race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general in 1991. Lackey is also a member of the Madison County Board of Education.
Lancaster Avenue was closed because firefighters hooked onto a hydrant across the street on the side of EKU. The street was reopened to traffic about 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Lewis said Richmond firefighters would remain at the property through Tuesday night to extinguish hot spots or flare-ups.