UPDATE: Woman arrested for setting south Wichita house fire

By: Jason Tarr and Phil White Email
By: Jason Tarr and Phil White Email
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WICHITA, Kan. -- UPDATE: In hopes of saving some money while finishing nursing school, Adam Jones, his wife and two-year-old son moved into an apartment-style home in South Wichita about four weeks ago.

But their hopes went up in flames early Saturday morning.

"We've been here for a month and next thing you know we are being displaced by a fire," Jones said.

The fire began at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning at the home in the 1500 block of S. Wichita Street.

Jones says beginning at about 11:30 p.m. Friday night his upstairs neighbors had been arguing. He says that included yelling and door slamming.

"Next thing you know, somebody is beating on (our) front door and I'm thinking it's these people who live above us. I open the door and it ends up being a Wichita police officer who says, 'You need to get out. The apartment above you is on fire,'" Jones said.

Jones grabbed his wife, son, mother and sister and got out safely. His mother and 16-year-old sister were staying over for the holiday weekend.

At least two other people who were inside the home in the other apartments got out safely.

The Red Cross responded and is providing Jones and his family with assistance. Jones says they are currently all staying in a hotel room together.

"That's the most important thing that everyone is safe and unharmed," Jones said.

Investigators say the fire was intentionally set when the neighbors' argument upstairs turned violent.

Police say a 51-year-old woman was on her way out of the apartment and allegedly told her ex-husband he'd, "pay for what he had done." The ex-husband told officers that the bed was soon on fire.

"It's just a bunch of nonsense that was caused for no reason," next-door neighbor Kyle Fredericks said.

Police arrested the woman on eight counts of aggravated arson. Crews estimate damage from the fire at $15,000.

"Knowing that she lived right next door and she was capable of starting a fire just out of nowhere with kids downstairs, that's scary," Isidro Bustos said.

Police did not release her name Saturday.

"I think she should have been charged with child endangerment as well," Jones said. "She knew we had a 2-year-old child. She knew that child was living right underneath her feet and to recklessly do something like that is something beyond anything I can imagine."

While crews contained the fire to the woman's room on the second floor, Jones' apartment has smoke and water damage throughout.

He says he's thankful no one was hurt but knows his neighbor's alleged crime means a tough road ahead.

"I'm just hoping we can come together (as a family) and do whatever it takes to get us back in our home," Jones said.

ORIGINAL STORY

Six people are without a home after someone set a south Wichita apartment house on fire early Saturday morning.

The fire was reported about 1 a.m. in the 1500 block of South Wichita Street, just north of Harry and Wichita.

Wichita Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Russell said investigators determined the fire was intentionally set. Officers arrested a 51-yer-old woman for setting the fire. Police say the fire stemmed from a domestic dispute between the woman and her ex-husband.

The two-story house had been converted into three apartments. The fire was contained to one apartment on the second floor, Russell said.

However, the rest of the apartment house sustained smoke and water damage. Six people -- five adults and one child -- all got out safely. The Red Cross was responding to the scene to assist them in finding a temporary place to stay, Russell said.

Ruessell estimated the damage at $15,000.


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