Wichita Business Fire Ruled Accidental

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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December 1st, 2010


Wichita fire investigators say a fire in the 400 Block of W. 21st last night was Accidental.

Their investigation has determined it was an electrical in nature.

Damage estimates indicate there is $80,000 in damage to the structure and $30,000 in damage to its contents.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fire crews worked for hours Tuesday night to clear the scene of a fire at a north Wichita strip mall. The fire destroyed one business and caused heavy smoke damage to three others.

It started around 5:30 Tuesday night at 21st and Waco. Crews blocked off a portion of 21st for several hours as the fire started during rush hour.

The scene made for some alarming phone calls to one family.

"All of our friends were calling and texting us, 'Hey, something happened at your store. I wonder if you guys are okay,'" said Melissa Rodriguez.

Rodriguez's family owns the business next door to where the fire broke out. But her family didn't know it wasn't their building that was on fire, until they arrived on scene.

"It was a big sense of relief, but I still feel bad for the other guy," said Rodriguez.

Firefighters couldn't confirm the name of the business but Rodriguez says it was an herbal store. The blaze destroyed nearly all of the contents, and caused heavy smoke damage to three adjoining businesses.

The Wichita Fire Department says the size of the structures, and the amount of their contents, is why so many crews responded.

"We needed the extra crews to perform all the functions for a building fire versus a house fire," said Wichita Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Royse.

Investigators say the blaze appears to have started in the back of the building and worked its way forward. Crews had to climb the roof to ventilate smoke, and help find the source of flames they saw pouring from the structure when they arrived.

Even though Rodriguez says she's glad it wasn't her family's business, she says the building still holds sentimental value as that's where her family started their store more than 15 years ago.

"My brother [said,] 'There are so many memories,' I [said] 'I know, that's where we used to be.' So it was still kind of emotional," said Rodriguez.

No word yet on what caused the fire, but damage is estimated at somewhere between $60,000 and $80,0000.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Firefighters battle a building fire on 21st street near Waco.

The fire sparked in a shop at 410 West 21st Street just after 5:30 p.m. Crews on the scene reported heavy smoke inside of the building.

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