Reward offered for information solving church annex fire

WICHITA — Local authorities today reached out to the public for help in solving the source of a blaze that heavily damaged a church annex last week.

Capt. Stuart Bevis stopped short of calling the fire in an annex of the Wichita Christian Center on April 29 an arson, instead saying "A human hand was involved in the ignition of the fire."

The two-alarm fire caused an estimated $100,000 damage to the structure and its contents, Bevis said. The center lost numerous decorations and theatrical sets in the fire, which was well advanced by the time firefighters discovered it in response to a report of smoke in the area of Taft and St. Paul.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the parties involved, Bevis said.

Anyone who may have seen someone or something earlier that Tuesday evening should call the investigations section of the fire department at 316-268-4585, the BATFE at 316-269-6229 or Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.

Tips can also be called in at 800-222-TIPS (8477); by text message via CRIMES (274637) and beginning the message with TIP217; or on the Web at