Warming sock cause of Wichita apartment fire

Fire investigators determined Sunday that a warming sock — the kind placed in microwaves and then used to warm your body — may have accidentally started the fire that caused $450,000 in damages at the Huntington Place Apartments on South Seneca.

The fire began shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday and spread quickly, causing 20 of the 24 apartments in the 3900 block of South Seneca to be evacuated. Seven apartments were damaged.

"Our first arriving units saw heavy fire and smoke coming from the two-story complex from six different apartments," said Battalion Chief Mike Maddox of the Wichita Fire Department. Twenty-five city fire department units, one county fire unit and five EMS trucks were called to the scene.

EMS crews transported two people with burns to the hospital. Firefighters were able to contain the fire by climbing onto the apartment complex roof and cutting holes into the roof, Maddox said. No firefighters were injured.

The American Red Cross Midway-Kansas Chapter responded to the fire and provided clothes, food and shelter for people displaced by the fire.

Maddox said the warming sock was apparently heated in the microwave and then placed in a bed, where it caught the bedding on fire.

The extreme cold temperatures Sunday morning caused firefighters problems. A water hydrant froze and three of the department trucks had frozen water valves due to the ice and cold.

"We are not used to that kind of weather," Maddox said.