Apartment fire displaces 14 near 21st, Amidon

Fire caused extensive damage to an apartment building in Wichita on Thursday evening, authorities said, but no injuries were reported.

The fire, which started on a balcony, was reported shortly before 6:30 p.m. at Pelican Point Apartments, 2150 N. Meridian, Wichita Fire Capt. Stuart Bevis said.

It took firefighters five minutes to get to the complex, where they found open flames fed by the same robust winds that whipped along several grass fires in the metropolitan area Thursday afternoon.

“It had already gotten into the attic” by the time firefighters arrived, Bevis said. “They had a hard fight in front of them.”

The building had a fire wall as part of its construction, he said, which limited the fire to two apartments plus the attic and roof. The rest of the apartments in the building sustained substantial water damage, however.

Residents of the building were able to escape without injury, he said. Fire crews declared the fire out less than an hour later, a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said, but firefighters were checking for hot spots and flare-ups all night.

The fire was ignited by embers from a charcoal grill that a tenant was cooking with on a balcony, Bevis said. Damage to the building and contents was set at $330,000.

It’s illegal to use a propane or charcoal grill on a balcony or within 10 feet of combustible materials on a patio for any dwellings larger than a duplex in the city, Bevis said. The tenant who was using the grill was cited for violating the city ordinance.

The Red Cross was alerted to assist seven adults and seven children displaced by the fire, the dispatch supervisor said.

There is a fire station less than a mile from the complex, Bevis said, but crews on duty there were out fighting numerous grass fires across the metropolitan area Thursday evening. The first fire trucks to reach the complex came from Station 1 downtown.

Residents should not grill or light tiki torches or chimeneas if winds exceed 15 miles an hour, Bevis said, because of the risk of sparks igniting combustibles such as trash or dry grass.