The fire that killed a 70-year-old man in his apartment Sunday ignited because he was smoking while on oxygen, a Wichita fire official said Monday.
Evidence suggests the man’s oxygen tube caught on fire and burned down to the oxygen generator, Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp said. The victim was able to push his medical alert button and the responder who called 911 could hear a smoke alarm in the apartment sounding.
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By the time fire crews reached Apartment 414 at Shadyway Plaza Tower, 1421 N. Spruce, the victim had died in his living room chair, Crisp said. The fire was contained in that one apartment and was centered in the living room.
Other residents of the apartment building that offers independent living for older residents were able to evacuate safely, he said, though one woman was taken to Via Christi Hospital St. Francis after she inhaled smoke while taking the stairs down from the seventh floor. She was stable at the hospital on Monday.
Authorities are awaiting confirmation of the victim’s identity from the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center before releasing his name, Crisp said.
Each apartment has its own smoke alarm, Crisp said, and the other residents began to evacuate after smoke seeping into the hallway activated a general smoke alarm.
This is the first death resulting from a fire in the city this year, Crisp said.
The apartment building does not have a sprinkler system installed, he said, so “the fire was unchecked” until the fire crews arrived. They were able to limit the fire to the apartment where it started.
Sprinkler systems were not required at the time the apartment building was built, Crisp said. The only parts of the building with sprinklers are common-use areas, he said.