NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) — A fire on the west side of Newton Sunday sent one man in critical condition to the hospital and did at least $500,000 in damage. Fire crews from four towns converged to fight the blaze that left more than a dozen people with no place to call home.
“My roommate comes running and wakes me up going, ‘There’s a fire!'” displaced resident Joshua Armstrong said.
Moments later, Armstrong, his wife, and his roommate rushed out of their second-floor apartment to safety—not a second too soon.
“I walked around into the, because there’s like a courtyard area, and I walked around, and I felt the heat before I cut the corner,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong says his apartment is a loss.
“Yeah, I managed to go around, and it was literally, it had engulfed the entire back corner of the apartment,” Armstrong said.
Resident Matthew Davis lives in the building adjacent to Armstrong’s.
“It was just nuts,” Davis said. “Some guy knocked on our door and telling us, ‘There’s a fire, there’s a fire,’ and surely after I had looked, we had just enough time to grab some of the animals that I had.”
In the rush to escape, three of Davis’ cats were still trapped inside. Thankfully, all three were rescued, and none were harmed.
“I don’t wanna cry and whatnot, but definitely a heartwarming moment,” Davis said.
The City of Newton says 15 residents were displaced as a result of the fire.
“For all the families that did get caught in this, I am deeply sorry about this. It’s heartbreaking,” Davis said.
The Red Cross and others are making sure residents who lost their homes have a place to stay for now.
The cause of the fire has been ruled undetermined, with no criminal activity suspected. The fire marshal is working with the property owner to get the building secured.
The City of Newton said the damage estimate is in excess of $500,000.