Blaze blamed on spontaneous combustion

Fire officials say spontaneous combustion ignited the fire that destroyed a 101-year-old house in the north Riverside neighborhood early Monday.

The fire was reported just after 11:51 p.m. Sunday at 1255 N. River Blvd., officials said. Firefighters had to quickly go into a defensive mode while battling the blaze that started in the back of the three-story house — meaning they could only hope to keep the fire from spreading to surrounding structures.

The couple who live at the house was able to escape without injuries.

"They woke up to the snap, crackle and pop coming from the back of the house" — the sound of flames burning, as well as smoke, Wichita Fire Capt. Stuart Bevis said.

The house was under renovation, and rags used for staining wood had been tossed into a trash can with paper towels on an enclosed back porch, Bevis said.

Damage was set at $450,000 to the house and its contents, Bevis said.