Fire crews doused fires at a south Wichita home twice Tuesday, leaving the residents and homeowners with $65,000 in damage.
Vincent Motte, 24, said he was home with his brother, mother and two of his three young children — boys, aged 1 and 4 — when the second set of flames ignited around 6:45 p.m. Motte said he returned to the house, in the 1500 block of South Waco, to salvage furniture and clothing after an earlier fire at about 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Fire crews “said it was from matches on the ground, but they came and put out the fire in this front room right here,” Motte said, pointing to the home’s charred frame after firefighters extinguished the second blaze.
Motte, who rents the house, said he lost nearly everything — clothes, a TV, computers — except a few clothes and two couches.
“I’m guessing the fire was up there the whole time we were getting our little stuff out the house,” he said.
Wichita fire Battalion Chief Tom Carney said officials were preparing to return to the house to perform a routine check for hot spots when “we received the call for the house on fire.” Carney said crews recheck fire calls after 45 minutes, then every two hours, until “we feel we’ve got it completely under control.”
Crews last checked the house on south Waco at 4:30 p.m., he said. When units arrived at 6:45 after Motte called 911, they saw smoke rolling from the attic.
Carney said the second fire was trapped behind some short walls built between the floor of the attic and its sloping roof.
“We had trouble getting to it because of some knee walls in the upstairs,” he said. “Once we got those cut down and got back to the fire, we didn’t have any trouble” putting it out.
No one was hurt in either fire, Carney said.
The cause of both fires remain under investigation. Damage estimates are $50,000 to structure and $15,000 to contents.
Motte said he thinks the second fire wouldn’t have started if the fire crews would have rechecked the house sooner.
“I feel bad about everything, but we probably wouldn’t have had this second fire if they would’ve come back like they said they was going to do to check the hot spots, but I’ve been calling 911 and getting voicemail,” he said.
“Everything is gone now. We were trying to get the last of the stuff now it looks like everything is gone.”