Local Firefighters Respond To Dozens Of Fires Overnight

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Celebrating the Fourth of July often comes with high, unintended costs – costs from fireworks fires. Firefighters were very busy last night with over 100 grass fire calls and several house fire calls.

Fireworks in the 1100 block of N. Cleveland are being blamed for putting a family on the street. It was one of at least three house fires in Wichita. A neighbor alerted the family of five to the fire, so they could escape. The early damage estimate is about $120,000, including the home and its contents.

Wichita Fire Battalion Chief Joe Bickel says, "We've been real busy tonight - a lot of grass fires and a lot of them started by fireworks."

Tyra Ford looks across the road north of Valley Center, where a stubble field caught fire, most likely due to fireworks. She says she, her sister, and her sister’s three children had little time to make escape plans from the east-moving fire. Part of the struggle, she says, is awakening children to get them moving to safety.

"The flames were really high and we didn't have much time to get the kids out and the three horses that my sister got out," says Ford.

All that stood between them was the county road and tall, dry grass, which could have caught fire.

7-year-old Tally Wikum says, "It was very, very scary and we just really had to get out of there."

Ford says her sister has five horses, but only three would fit in the trailer. She had to pick which three they’d escape with and leave the gates open for the others to fend for themselves. This is just one more example of the danger of fireworks.

"A lot of grass fires in yards near houses. We were fairly short several times during the night, but we were able to keep up." says Sedgwick County Deputy Fire Marshal Greg Harlan.

Some other neighborhoods also fled for safety. Celebrating the Fourth is one thing, but firefighters say folks have got to be more careful, because it winds up costing all of us, some more than others.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Local firefighters kept busy overnight as crews responded to at least three house fires and dozens of grass fires during Fourth of July celebrations.

Officials responded to the first fire at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday in the 1100 block of N. Cleveland.

Crews said an alert neighbor saw the fire, and helped the family escape. Two adults and three children, ages 7, 5, and 2 were not hurt.

When crews arrived, they found the front of the home fully involved. The blaze quickly spread to the second floor. Firefighters managed to contain the flames about an hour later.

Investigators said fireworks started the fire, however it is unknown if discarded fireworks caused the blaze. Damage is estimated at more than $100,000.

Firefighters also responded to a second house fire in the 900 block of N. Brownthrush around midnight. No information on the fire is available at this time.

A third house fire broke out in the 4500 block of Brookhaven just before 1 a.m. Thursday.

Firefighters said the back of the home caught fire. Crews knocked down the fire quickly.

Two adults and one child were inside the home at the time, but managed to escape. The Red Cross has been called to assist the displaced family.

Damage estimates on the Brookhaven fire have not yet been released.

Sedgwick County firefighters responded to 128 grass fires overnight. Investigators said fireworks embers sparked most of the fires.

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