Naked homeless man arrested near downtown YMCA

Downtown YMCA, 402 N. Market (Feb. 5, 2013)
Downtown YMCA, 402 N. Market (Feb. 5, 2013) File photo

A naked homeless man was arrested early Wednesday morning, suspected of setting a pile of wood pallets on fire next to the downtown YMCA branch, authorities said.

Fire crews were dispatched to the branch at 402 N. Market shortly before 5 a.m. Wednesday to check a possible building fire, Wichita Fire Battalion Chief Stuart Bevis said. When they arrived, they found a man near a pile of burning pallets next to the northeast corner of the building.

The man was “not clothed,” Bevis said.

Firefighters quickly put out the fire, which had not spread to the building.

The man was arrested “because he was hampering the fire crews” and making vague threats against the firefighters, Bevis said. He may also be charged with arson.

While some smoke made its way into the YMCA building, Bevis said, damage was minor at best.

“It could have been much worse if someone hadn’t called it in,” Bevis said.

It’s possible the homeless man may have started the fire to keep warm, Bevis said. It’s not clear why the man was not wearing any clothes.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger