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Official: Discarded cigarette caused grass fires in north Wichita

A Wichita firefighter hoses down hot spots from a grass fire near 25th and Poplar Wednesday afternoon. (March 2, 2016)
A Wichita firefighter hoses down hot spots from a grass fire near 25th and Poplar Wednesday afternoon. (March 2, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

A discarded cigarette is being blamed for the grass fire that spread on a windy day and damaged six houses in north Wichita on Wednesday, authorities said.

The fire started shortly after 1 p.m. on 25th Street North, “right at the entry way to Calvary Towers,” Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp said Thursday.

Calvary Towers is an independent living complex for seniors at 2600 N. Grove in north central Wichita.

Gusty south winds spread the fire rapidly, ultimately causing $80,000 in damage to six houses, Crisp said. Three of the houses had internal fire damage, while three others had damage to the siding. Three sheds also burned, along with playground equipment.

Twenty fire trucks were deployed to the scene to contain the fire, Crisp said. They were able to halt the fire just north of 26th Street North.

Other units were sent to two smaller grass fires that broke out elsewhere in the city. A house fire in west Wichita stretched resources even further.

“All that was going on at the same time,” Crisp said. “It was little hairy there” for a couple of hours.

Thanks to information provided by witnesses, fire investigators were able to find the exact spot where the fire started, he said, though officials do not know who discarded the cigarette.

A burn ban remains in effect through Friday night for Wichita and Sedgwick County. Crisp said officials will re-evaluate conditions on Friday to see whether the ban needs to be extended.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger

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