Apartment residents displaced by fire near Lincoln, Harry; four hurt

02/19/2014 8:05 AM

02/19/2014 1:59 PM

Four people were hurt — one critically — in an apartment fire early Wednesday morning in southeast Wichita, authorities said.

The fire was reported at 1:39 a.m. at Parklane Alley Apartments, 4964 E. Lincoln, a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said. That’s just east of Oliver.

Firefighters first on the scene reported smoke and flames showing from the front of a three-story apartment building, Capt. Stuart Bevis said. A second alarm was immediately called and several ambulances sent to the complex.

Fire crews had to rescue nine people from the building, Bevis said, “many of them by the use of ladders set to balconies and windows.”

A woman is in critical condition at the burn unit of Via Christi Hospital St. Francis, a spokeswoman for the hospital said. She suffered smoke inhalation, Bevis said.

One other victim complained of chest pains and was taken to Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph for observation and treatment, he said. Two other people suffered minor injuries but declined treatment, a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said.

Firefighters “made quick work” of the fire, which started on the ground floor and traveled up to the attic, Bevis said. But smoke, heat and toxic gases escaping where the fire began quickly filled the common hallway and stairways, “making the primary exit pathway for the apartments impassable in a short time,” he said.

An investigation revealed the fire started in the living room of Apartment No. 109 on the ground floor, Bevis said. It was caused by an ashtray that was accidentally knocked to the floor during the night.

Still-smoldering cigarettes ignited common combustibles on the floor, Bevis said.

“The growth of the fire was aided by the presence of plastic tubing carrying home oxygen for the occupant,” he said.

The resident was awakened by the fire and made a brief attempt to control the fire before escaping the apartment to alert her neighbors. She was not injured in the fire.

Damage was estimated at $150,000 to the structure and $50,000 to contents, Bevis said.

The fire affected 29 apartments, Red Cross spokeswoman Marena Assarsson said. None of them currently have electricity.

The agency opened a shelter at Grace Lutheran Church, 3310 E. Pawnee, for use by people displaced by the fire. The Red Cross disaster action team will be working with residents and community partners to meet individual needs, Assarsson said.

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