Discarded Cigarette Blamed For Apartment Blaze

A discarded cigarette is to blame for a fire that forced residents out of an apartment building late Monday night on the east side.

The fire was reported just after 10 o’clock at the Aragon Apartments near Harry Webb. The fire crews arriving on the scene were met with heavy fire coming from one of the apartments. By then, however, flames had spread to the attic, forcing crews to attack it from both sides of the building. Ten fire units were called to battle the fire while residents huddled outside.

Investigators say a cigarette discarded in a bottle on a balcony started the fire.

"It seemed like the wind was blowing pretty heavy, but we were able to knock it down pretty fast,” said Lt. Lance Diffenbaugh with the Wichita Fire Department. “What you seen was a lot of sparking after we opened up the attic, because most of the fire extended into the attic pretty fast. With out new trucks we were able to get up onto the roof, cut some holes and do some rapid ventilation."

The fire spread to two other apartments, making them unlivable. Damage is estimated at more than $300,000.

No injuries were reported.