House fire causes $340,000 in damage; cause under investigation

By Katherine Wartell

Investigators are looking into the cause of an early morning fire on Katherine Circle that is estimated to have caused more than $300,000 in damage.

Firefighters were called to a home at 3704 Katherine Circle at 4:36 a.m. after a neighbor reported that flames were visible from the house. Lt. Josh Kyle, with the Riley County Police Department, said there were no occupants at the time of the fire.

It is estimated that the fire resulted in approximately $340,000 in damage.

Ryan Almes, deputy chief of technical services at the Manhattan Fire Department, said that though the roof suffered major damage, it is too early to determine whether the cause was fireworks, which, he said, are suspected to be the cause of an earlier roof fire at an apartment complex on Dondee Drive.

In that incident, which occurred on July 3 at approximately 10:15 p.m., the roof of the three-story complex at 713 Dondee caught fire from what is suspected to be fireworks landing on it. Almes said the fire spread into the building and that two people were treated and released for smoke inhalation.

The fire caused an estimated $35,000 in damage to the building, but Kyle said there were no injuries.

Almes said that fire was one of 14 apparently caused by fireworks over the holiday weekend, from June 30 to the Fourth of July.

He said the complex fire was the most significant in terms of damage and that the other fires included grass, trash and dumpster fires, which started from discarded fireworks that were still live or smoking.

Three of those fires included a grass fire near Fort Riley Boulevard and Miller Parkway, a dumpster fire in an area adjacent to Frey Drive, which caused $400 in damage, and a trash fire in the parking lot of 114 McCall Road.

Almes said the number of actual fires resulting from fireworks was abnormally high this year, and that about five fires, which was the case in 2011, started by fireworks is the norm.

He said the biggest cause of the fires is discarded fireworks, though the damage is typically not very high, as is the case with most dumpster fires.

On Thursday, there was also a fire reported at 2516 Stagg Hill Rd., but reports indicate it was a basement fire started by a candle. Firefighters were called to that scene at approximately 6:40 a.m. According to reports, one occupant was trapped inside, but Kyle said that person was able to escape by breaking a window. Damage is estimated at $1,500.

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