Official: Fire that damaged strip mall in south Wichita was arson

09/05/2013 8:05 AM

09/05/2013 11:10 AM

A fire that heavily damaged a strip mall in south Wichita late Wednesday night is an arson, authorities said.

A passerby saw smoke coming from the building near Seneca and 31st Street South just after 11:30 p.m., Capt. Stuart Bevis said. Fire crews arriving on the scene found “heavy smoke” coming out of a side door to Chiropractic Care Center, 1415 W. 31st Street South.

“It was a pretty significant fire,” Bevis said.

A second alarm was called out to the scene, he said.

“When they got there and saw the volume of smoke present, you become worried about fire moving through the attic,” Bevis said.

Evidence indicates someone forced open a side door and set the fire in the chiropractor’s office, Bevis said. Damage was set at $350,000 to the building and contents, but Bevis said some tenants in the building may be able to open for business today.

Anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area of the strip mall between 11 and 11:30 p.m. Wednesday is encouraged to call the fire investigation section at 316-337-9146 or Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.

Tips can also be sent to Crime Stoppers online at www.wsccs.com or from a mobile phone by texting TIP217, then the message to CRIMES (274637).

Fire crews needed about half-hour to put out the fire, he said.

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