WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A fire destroyed a Wichita apartment building late Thursday and sent two people to the hospital.
The fire broke out around 11 p.m. at the Sundance Apartments located at 1945 North Rock Road. The Wichita Fire Department called the third alarm as flames spread through the roof of the building.
16 apartments were damaged and that two people were hospitalized from injuries suffered in the blaze, but have since been released. No firefighters were injured.
The Wichita Fire Department said the cause of the fire was due to a discarded cigarette on a 2nd story balcony. It fell down between the divider wall between the apartments. The fire caused at least a million dollars in damages and 300,000 dollars in damage to the contents inside.
Victims of the fire said that they were required to have renters insurance.
Dozens of residents called the apartment building home. Friday, many returned to see the roof gone and unites at a complete loss.
For nearby neighbor Bryce Brenwald, once he smelled the smoke and saw the flames, he said he had to alert those people inside.
“This smoke was coming over the building. I don’t think it was getting inside yet so they didn’t even know their building was on fire, so we had to get them out,” said Brenwald. “We hammered on those doors, I and another guy I’m not even sure what apartment he was from but he came running over and hammered on the doors with me.”
Brenwald said soon after, the smoke was too thick and he had to step aside. He said he went to his apartment next door, grabbed his animals before being asked to evacuate.
Of those that were inside, they said time went fast.
The newly engaged couple, Tera Fulsom and Corey Cranmer, said when they smelt smoke they didn’t expect it to come from their complex.
“We went outside just saw a cloud of smoke so then I stepped out and saw flames coming from the other side,” said Fulsom. “I was like honey we got to go and we got our cat got our dog, left, the smoke got worse, we went over to the dog park, to try and breathe and by then, like his eyes were tearing up my sinuses were all clogged and that’s when we saw the flames, and it spread really fast.”
Fulsom said they couldn’t go inside because it was deemed unsafe by the property manager, but said her and her fiancé are nervous to see what’s left.
“It sucks, especially since my dad’s ashes are in there, and you know he passed away, the year that I moved here, so that’s a little hard but at the same time, material things can be replaced and my family can’t,” said Fulsom.
“I’m just still in shock, like I don’t know if it’s really hit me, because I guess until, until we can go in there I don’t know if it is going to hit me, man, like what we’ve lost and I don’t know where we go from here it really,” said Fiancé Cranmer.
Another couple was also a victim of the fire. Preston Pittman and Mackenzie Macmahon said they were in bed when they heard a knock at the door.
“She said Preston, we have to get out of here there’s smoke in the building and so we grabbed everything and she grabbed our cat, Sassy, and threw her into the crate and she got out first because she’s an asthmatic so I don’t want her smelling in any of the smoke as long as she could,” said Pittman. “Whenever I came out, it was just black wall of smoke, as I was getting out to the door.”
Pittman said he made it out but that it was a scary situation. As the two returned, they also are not sure how bad the damage is.
“My wedding dress and ring are in there so I get to go wedding shopping twice,” said Macmahon.
While it’s a touch situation, all residents who made it out said they are holding their family, friends, and furry animals a little tighter.
“I came out with my very best friend and my fur babies and that’s all that really matters,” said Macmahon.
For residents who need assistance, call the Red Cross at 844-334-7569.