Downtown Wichita apartment fire displaces tenants

A kitchen fire in a downtown Wichita apartment Tuesday may force tenants to stay elsewhere for a while.

Wichita firefighters responded to a smoke alarm at Flats 324, 324 N. Emporia, a few minutes before 9 a.m. Tuesday. Firefighters found a fire in a kitchen on the third floor and quickly put it out, but not before it damaged the walls of the apartment.

The fire happened inside a recent addition to the complex.

Fire Marshal Stuart Bevis estimates there was $100,000 in structural damage and $50,000 in other property damage.

It appears most of the damage came from water used to stop the fire, including from the sprinklers inside the surrounding apartments.

“At least a half dozen (apartments) have water damage,” Bevis said.

“The affected unit and most of the units around it are going to be displaced,” Bevis said. “At least until we get the water damage under control and restore the power to those units, because we had to cut the power.”

Bevis did not say how long the tenants will have to stay out of their apartments. No one was injured and it doesn’t appear anyone was in that apartment when the fire started, he said.

“Right now, the fire cause is under investigation. It does look to be accidental in nature,” Bevis said.

Chance Swaim won the Betty Gage Holland Award in 2018 for distinguished service to honor and protect the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses. He has been a news reporter for The Wichita Eagle since 2018. You can contact him at 316-269-6752 and cswaim@wichitaeagle.com.