Eight firefighters were hurt – some needing a brief hospitalization to treat burns and muscles strains – putting out a fire that ignited inside a west Wichita apartment building Monday night.
The fire, caused by unattended cooking, caused about $650,000 in damage to a Colony West apartments building and another $100,000 to its contents, said Stuart Bevis, acting fire marshal of the Wichita Fire Department. Bevis said the woman who lives in the apartment where the fire started had been cooking on the stove, then left without turning it off. That’s what caused the blaze, he said.
It’s been ruled an accidental fire.
Fire crews responding to the 700 block of North Country Acres, near Central and Ridge, shortly before 8 p.m. saw “significant fire coming from one apartment” and quickly requested additional help. “After a pretty prolonged battle, they were able to get the fire under control,” Bevis said, “but not before there was significant damage to one entire building.”
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Three apartments on the upper floor saw the worst damage, he said.
“Our crews were pretty aggressive trying to stop it from spreading to additional parts of the building,” Bevis said, adding that the aging apartment building has wood paneling, which “is just like kindling on the walls.”
The fire “had a significant head start before crews got there,” he said.
One person who lives in the building suffered from a medical condition “due to the excitement and the situation of the fire” and was treated at the scene. Some of the firefighters were hurt as they were cutting a trench in the roof for smoke and heat to vent out of the building, Bevis said.
“Luckily none of them were very severe. Several minor burns and muscle pulls,” he said, referring to the crews’ injuries. Four firefighters were hospitalized, treated for their wounds and released.
Most of the apartments in the scorched building weren’t livable afterward. The American Red Cross helped 21 residents find shelter and other necessities, Bevis said.