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Careless smoking blamed for deadly mobile home fire

By Sia Nyorkor
Jennifer Montenegro, News Producer , jmontenegro@kwch.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:45:20 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 04 2013 06:29:30 PM CST
WICHITA, Kan. -

Wichita fire investigators say careless smoking is to blame for a mobile home fire that killed two adults and two children last month.

Captain Stu Bevis says the fire started on a chair in the living room and spread through the home.  He also said there is no indication that the one smoke detector in the home was working at the time of the fire.

Three others suffered smoke inhalation.

The victims were renting the home. Capt. Bevis said landlords are required to supply working smoke alarms, but once they have been provided, it is up to the tenant to maintain them.

There have been 10 fire-related deaths in Wichita this year.

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Fire officials are still looking for a cause after a fire killed two adults and two children early Tuesday morning in east Wichita, but have ruled out electric malfunction.

The four people who were killed have been identified as 21-year-old Amanda Nichols, her son 1-year-old Isaaca Nichols, 27-year-old Camaron McGowan and his son, two-year-old K'dyn McGowan.

Fire Marshal Brad Crisp says they are waiting test results before determining the causes of death. Toxicology reports reveal that the carbon monoxide level in all victims were elevated, which is consistent with smoke inhalation.

Three other people escaped the home.  They were taken to the hospital, where they were treated and released with minor injuries.  A neighbor who tried to help the four who died also went to the hospital for minor injuries.  Fire Marshal Crisp says a firefighter suffered minor injuries fighting the fire. That person was treated at the scene.

Crisp says fire officials know where the fire started, and are hoping to determine a cause by early next week.

"A fire investigation is kinda like a jigsaw puzzle," Crisp said. "There's many pieces to the puzzle and we need to find all of those pieces and try and put them back in the correct location.  So we're missing a few pieces of the puzzle, we're wanting to finish those today."

Crisp says the last time Wichita had four people die in a single fire was in 1987. 

The fire happened near Central and Webb Road.  The home in the 600 block of N. Goebel was filled with smoke and flames when fire crews arrived at around 3:30 Tuesday morning.

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