Fire investigators still aren’t sure how a fire started early Monday morning that damaged several cars and a condominium near 13th and McLean.
The fire was reported shortly after 3:30 a.m. at 1035 N. McLean, Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp said.
Firefighters thought they were responding to a building fire, Crisp said, but discovered four cars and a carport on fire. Heat from the carport fire damaged an exterior wall of one building, Crisp said, but firefighters using hoses were able to prevent the fire from spreading to the building.
Damage was estimated at $60,000 for the four vehicles destroyed in the fire and $25,000 to the carport and the condominium building, Crisp said.
The cause of the fire is still unclear, he said. The investigation has narrowed to one vehicle as the source of the fire.
“They do have some concerns about the possibility of it being an arson,” Crisp said.
Over the past few weeks, a number of cars in the area have been the target of vandals, he said.
“Some cars have been keyed, and some other damage” has occurred, he said. Investigators have talked to residents in the area and will continue to interview people in the surrounding neighborhood.
Arson is “obviously something we need to take into consideration,” Crisp said.
Fires starting in unattended vehicles happen “probably a lot more often than you think,” Crisp said.
Wiring bundles in the engine compartment and components left plugged into cigarette lighters – such as cellphone chargers – are common sources of ignition, he said.
“Most of the time, they melt in on themselves,” Crisp said of cellphone chargers. But they have been known to ignite fires.