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Teen arrested in connection with duplex arson

A 13-year-old girl has been arrested on suspicion of arson after the duplex in which she lives caught fire early Thursday morning, authorities said.

The teen was arrested Thursday afternoon by a Sedgwick County Sheriff’s deputy, Fire Capt. Stuart Bevis said. The fire was reported at 4:20 a.m. Thursday at 6233 E. Eilerts, a residential street just off Woodlawn south of Kellogg.

A 55-year-old woman told authorities she woke to the sound of an explosion in the duplex saw lots of smoke in the basement when she went to investigate, authorities have said.

“They were alert enough to get out,” Bevis said of the three adults who live in the duplex.

The structure had originally been described as a triplex, he said, but it’s actually a duplex.

Fire crews alerted arson investigators shortly after arriving on the scene.

“There were plenty of indications” the fire was no accident, Bevis said. “It had a lot of potential” to expand rapidly and destroy the duplex.

The teen, who lived in the basement on the same side of the duplex as a couple in their 60s, had torn out basement window screens and left prior to the arrival of firefighters, police have said. There was speculation that she was running away with her 13-year-old boyfriend, but Bevis said she was alone when she was arrested.

Bevis declined to discuss the teen’s relationship with the couple, but a police report stated she is a granddaughter.

The case will be presented to the juvenile section of the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office next week, he said. The fire caused an estimated $7,500 in damage.

Bevis praised the residents of the duplex for getting out of the structure quickly.

“Get out first,” he advised. “Get out, stay out, call 911, have a meeting place.

“We can figure out what happened later.”

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