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Officials identify man, 83, killed in Sunday house fire

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at 12:24 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, at 8:06 a.m.

The man killed in a house fire Sunday morning has been identified as Elijah Smith.

Smith, 83, was found in the bathroom of his house at 1538 N. Erie by firefighters responding to a blaze reported shortly before 8:45 a.m. Sunday, Fire Marshal Brad Crisp said. An autopsy confirmed he died of smoke inhalation.

Smith’s 52-year-old son was able to escape the burning house and was found in the front yard of the house near 13th and Hillside. He suffered minor injuries.

Crisp said the father and son discovered a small fire in the older man’s bedroom and tried to put it out before calling 911. Fire crews encountered significant fire and smoke pouring from the front of the house when they arrived at the scene.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been confirmed, but investigators suspect the blaze’s source is a space heater that was plugged into an extension cord instead of a wall socket. Common household extension cords typically can’t handle the load required by space heaters, Crisp said, and should never be used with the devices.

Smith is the 11th person to die in a fire in Wichita this year, officials have said.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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