WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – On Tuesday night, a three-alarm fire took place at Aspen Park Apartments in west Wichita. According to the Wichita Fire Department (WFD), the fire started after someone threw out a cigarette, leading to the blaze that left many without a home.
About 20 people have now been displaced. Two of those people are a young couple who had just moved in two months ago. They said they are just happy to be alive.
“Shooken up, scared, shocked that that happened to us. We just moved out. It’s our first time living by ourselves, and it’s crazy,” said Aubrey Schnieders, who lost her apartment in the fire.
It’s been a wild 24 hours for the young couple. Schnieders said she was taking a nap when she awoke to someone pounding at her door.
“I thought it was just somebody at the wrong house, so I got up and went to the bathroom, and someone banged on the door again, and I saw the smoke coming into the bathroom, and I was like, ‘Oh god, I need to get out of here,'” said Schnieders.
Schnieders said it was her neighbor from downstairs that was at getting everyone out of the building before firefighters arrived.
“They knocked down the door to the apartment that was on fire, and they got the dog that was out because the tenant wasn’t there. He was at someone else’s house,” said Schnieders.
Schneider’s boyfriend Jonathan Wcislo was at work and raced home as soon as he heard.
“It’s a total loss, but we still have each other, so that’s the biggest thing we got,” said Wcislo.
Both of the couple’s families came out to the fire to help them out. They have not been able to go inside their unit.
“To see how much we lost, that’s probably what I’m most nervous about, and I’m kinda hoping we can save some stuff like from the bedroom and the closet,” said Schnieders.
Red Cross and the apartment staff have already stepped in to help out this couple. If you would like to also help out, click here for their GoFundMe.
So far, the Red Cross has helped people in 11 units impacted by the fire. Volunteers carry kits of hygiene items and toiletries to replace those people lost, and many of those volunteers know what it’s like to experience disaster.
“They share these stories like, ‘Hey, I had a disaster. Red Cross helped me, so I want to help back too.’ So really, it’s this amazing like, ongoing cycle of people just caring and giving and paying it forward. And it’s emotional. It really is,” said Jaime McHugh, the Disaster Program Manager for Red Cross.
You can learn how to help out at RedCross.org.