A 55-year-old woman was in critical condition at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis after suffering serious smoke inhalation at house fire late Tuesday, a Sedgwick County dispatcher said.
The fire in the basement of the house in the 2700 block of North Erie was reported around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Wichita Fire Batallion Chief John Turner said four people were in the house at the time – three middle school-aged children and a grandmother.
No batteries were installed in the house’s smoke detectors, Turner said.
The children evacuated when the smoke started to burn their eyes, Turner said, and they noticed it coming up the stairs to the basement.
The grandmother also evacuated, but not before inhaling large quantities of smoke, Turner said.
The blaze, which had spread to two rooms in the basement, was extinguished quickly, Turner said.
As of midnight, investigators had not determined a cause for the fire.
Damage was estimated between $40,000 and $50,000, Turner said.
He stressed the importance of checking home smoke alarms regularly.
“It could have maybe prevented an injury tonight, or worse,” Turner said. “If it were later tonight, without anybody noticing, we could be pulling out fatalities here tonight.”