(WICHITA, Kan.) — Wichita fire investigators are still now sure what caused a deadly house fire this week, but say careless smoking is a possibility.
The fire started early Tuesday morning in a home near Central and Tyler. A father and son died in the blaze. The 75-year-old father never made it out of the home and his 51-year-old son died after trying to go back in to save him.
Whenever a significant fire happens in a neighborhood, many living in the area have questions. That's why firefighters go back into the area to talk with residents. It's called the FLASH program, which means fire loss awareness for safer homes.
Thursday night they knocked on doors of those living within a couple of blocks of the deadly fire. "If we can save a life, that's what we're here for," said Acting Lt. Paul Wiebe. He and Division Chief Brad Boyd talked to about a dozen residents answering questions about the fire and offering fire prevention advice. Wiebe was one of the first to respond to the deadly fire, so he knows first hand how dangerous the fire was. "We feel bad because we couldn't get either one of them out in time," Wiebe told a neighbor.
He hopes by talking with people and giving them pamphlets with safety tips, people will take fire prevention seriously. He and Boyd spoke openly about the dangers of smoking outside and how a discarded cigarette can still ignite. They told people to put cigarettes in buckets of water and to avoid any outdoor burning because it's been so dry.
People responded well to the advice. They were happy to hear from the firefighters and asked a lot of questions. One woman even said she was going to go out and buy new smoke detectors. It was exactly what the firefighters wanted to hear, so hopefully they won't be making any other calls to the neighborhood.
The Wichita Fire Department usually sends the same crew that worked a significant fire back out to talk with residents. It usually happens within a week of a fire.