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WICHITA, Kansas – Fire crews are still investigating an apartment fire in the 2200 block of S. Oliver.
The fire broke out about 5:30 Tuesday morning in building 800 at the Ashley Lane Apartments. It was contained hours later.
Crews were met with flames when they arrived, and just before 6 a.m., a second alarm was issued.
But about 6:15 a defensive call was issued, meaning all firefighters were pulled out of the building due to safety concerns and a roof collapsing.
A third alarm was issued a short time later.
Several residents escaped with only the clothes they had on.
“We were trying to get out and all that we could grab was what we were wearing. What I thank God for is that we’re alive really,” said Donie Brown, apartment resident.
A fire supervisor reports five people were injured and four were taken to the hospital. One person declined treatment at the scene.
“Fire investigators are out here on the scene. We are going to work throughout the day to attempt to find the probable cause,” said Ron Blackwell, Wichita Fire Chief.
Damage is estimated to be $1.5 million with $250,000 to contents. Forty-eight units were damaged in the fire.
At least 70 residents of the apartment were displaced.
“Trying to work with management to make sure we have everybody accounted for. There’s one person we haven’t been able to contact, but there’s no indication they’re still in the building,” said Capt. Stu Bevis, Wichita Fire Department.
Right after the fire, organizers with the Red Cross worked to set up temporary relief efforts at the Sharon Baptist Church offering basics to those affected.
“You don’t think about anything. You don’t think about money. I wouldn’t have thought about my phone if I wasn’t on it. There’s nothing you can grab,” said Jessica Cook, fire victim.
Despite the loss, a smile remains on Cook’s face, who says now she is going to take it step by step.
“Not much I can cry about. I did lose everything but God is going to bless me in the end.”