SE Wichita neighbors voice frustration after fire to vacant apartments
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - It’s been a problem in Wichita with no immediate solution in sight: buildings and houses that are supposed to be abandoned are catching fire. It not only poses a danger for firefighters, it leaves those living near the vacant properties frustrated.
Thursday, the Wichita Fire Department responded to a fire call at a vacant, boarded-up apartment complex in the 1600 block of South Elpyco.
“It’s been vacant for some time. Most buildings have either tried to be renovated or have been unoccupied for a number of years,” Wichita Fire Department Captain Casey Hauschild said.
Even when structures are supposed to be vacant, firefighters don’t assume that’s the case when they respond.
“We treat these as they’re occupied every time we show up. Because until we search them, we don’t know that there is no one inside that structure,” Captain Hauschild said.
Thursday, firefighters didn’t find anyone inside the boarded-up apartment in southeast Wichita. The cause remains under investigation. The boards over doors are windows are meant to keep people out. But they aren’t doing their job. It’s a situation that adds to frustrations for people living near the unoccupied apartments on Elpyco.
The property seems to attract problems, neighbors say.
“We’ve seen fires and we’ve seen a lot of break-ins over there and stuff. It’s not safe,” neighbor Charles Johnson said.
Neighbor Gerald Jackson said the situation is worse at night. It’s a problem he’s personally experienced.
“I’ve actually had my window kicked in because they thought [my home] was vacant,” Jackson said.
He said the situation involving the unoccupied property in his neighborhood makes him question his safety.
“I puts our neighbors at risk, and me,” Jackson said.
Jackson said he’s reached a point where he’d like to see the city tear down the unoccupied apartments in his neighborhood as they’ve sat boarded up with no signs of plans to remodel and upkeep them.
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