Officials: Discarded cigarette causes $75,000 damage to triplex

08/23/2014 4:37 PM

08/23/2014 6:53 PM

A discarded cigarette on a hot, windy afternoon Saturday caused $75,000 in damages to a triplex near Central and Oliver, Wichita Fire Department officials said.

Shortly after 4 p.m., fire crews responded to a report of smoke coming from the red brick triplex in the 400 block of Bleckley Drive, battalion chief Joe Bickel said.

When they arrived, they found extensive flames coming out of the east end of the triplex, Bickel said, so additional firefighters and equipment were sent to the scene. More than a dozen fire vehicles, including two ladder trucks, were on the scene at one point.

“It was windy and hot,” Bickel said, “so that made it a little difficult for the crews.”

Investigators cited a “carelessly discarded cigarette” outside the triplex as the cause of the fire, Bickel said. The triplex is about a block northeast of Robinson Middle School.

The fire was contained within 20 minutes, Bickel said.

The triplex was occupied, but none of the four residents was injured, he added.

A firefighter sustained a burn the size of a quarter when a hot ember went down his sleeve, Bickel said. He was treated at the scene.

Damage was estimated at $60,000 to the structure and $15,000 to the contents, Bickel said. The Red Cross was making arrangements to temporarily house the four residents.

“All three units will be uninhabitable for the next few weeks,” he said.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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