UPDATE: Careless smoking blamed for early morning apartment fire

By: Jordan Shefte - Email
By: Jordan Shefte - Email
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WICHITA, Kan. — Careless smoking has been determined as the cause of an early morning apartment fire in east Wichita.

It happened around 1:35 a.m. at the Parklane Alley Apartments, located near Lincoln and Oliver. One person suffered critical injuries from smoke inhalation and many residents had to be rescued by firefighters.

Around 15 people have been left homeless by the fire. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter for residents at Grace Lutheran Church, located at 3310 East Pawnee.

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Nikki Perkins woke this morning to sounds of breaking glass. A step on her balcony revealed her apartment building was on fire.

"I was crying," Perkins said. "I was heartbroken."

But she knew she had to take action, so Nikki followed her instincts.

"I saw a flame going up to my balcony, so I automatically jumped," Perkins said. "Off my balcony, didn't even think of nothing, just jumped."

She hurt her foot in the fall, but immediately ran to her neighbors, knocking on their doors and waking people up. Many are calling Nikki a hero, and are crediting her with saving lives.

"She was a blessing, very much," said apartment resident Carl Sizemore. "We were all sound asleep, didn't have a clue what was going on, and then she come beat on our door. In turn, we all started following, getting out."

Even with her quick action, the fire department still had to save several others.

"We had multiple rescues to perform," said Battalion Chief Joe Bickel. "Crews on the scene ended up rescuing a total of seven people out of their apartments using ladders."

The fire caused extensive damage to the Parklane Alley Apartments. One person has critical injuries from smoke inhalation, but neighbors are thankful the situation wasn't worse.

"I was lucky, and we were all lucky that there were no fatalities," Sizemore said. "Sure we don't have no where to go, but at least we're all safe."

Red Cross wants to spread the word that they have opened a shelter for those who were displaced by this fire. It is located at Grace Lutheran Church at 3310 E. Pawnee.

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At least four injuries are reported from an early-morning fire at an apartment complex.

Two alarms were called around 1:35 a.m. to the 4900 block of East Lincoln, near the intersection with Oliver. The building which caught fire has three floors. Firefighters say the top two stories were in flames when crews arrived.

Several people were trapped and had to be rescued from balconies. Others were able to knock on nearby doors to wake up residents and alert them to the danger.

One person has critical injuries due to smoke inhalation. The other injuries were described as minor.

About 15 other people are out of their homes as a result of the fire. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter for displaced apartment residents at Grace Lutheran Church, 3310 East Pawnee.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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