WICHITA, Kansas – Two men are dead after fire tore through the southeast Wichita home Friday morning.
“They were good friends of mine,” said one man at the scene with tears in his eyes that didn’t want to be identified. “I just don't know. My heart goes out to them.”
Crews were called to the scene at 2512 South Twin Oaks around 9:45 a.m. Friday.
They found smoke and flames pouring from the front porch. Neighbors told firefighters the two men who lived at the home might be inside.
After crews barged in, they found one man in the living room and another in the bedroom.
“Heavy smoke was reported by the first arriving fire fighters,” said Chief Ron Blackwell. “Both of the victims removed appeared to have some form of smoke inhalation, quite heavy smoke inhalation.”
The older of the two men died at the scene. Neighbors say he was disabled and in his 60s. His nephew was in his 30s and suffered from cerebral palsy.
“The guy, I guess, couldn't even walk so he didn't have a chance,” said Devin Johnson, a witness to the fire. “It's really sad. Four days before Christmas. It’s sad.
Fire officials say the two deaths bring the total number of fire fatalities in Wichita to four for 2012.
Chief Blackwell said earlier in the day before the fire, he was thinking about how fortunate the department had been that fire fatalities had dropped dramatically from the eight in 2011 to just two prior to this fire.
“Then we have this kind of event,” said Blackwell. “One that happens during the holiday season seems to make it especially sad.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Fire fighters believe it began in the living room. It caused $30,000 in damage to the home and contents.