“Fire Line Do Not Cross” yellow tape surrounds the scene of a house fire Thursday afternoon at 621 S. Washington Ave. The fire was called in to 911 at 7:21 a.m. earlier that day, and firefighters discovered a man severely burned in the front yard upon arrival. Though officials think the fire was an accident, and they know the origin of the fire, the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the scene to determine the cause, according to a statement released by Liberal Fire Chief Kelly Kirk. L&T photo/Larry Phillips
By LARRY PHILLIPS
• Leader & Times
A Liberal man was severely burned in a house fire early Thursday on the south side of town. His injuries required him to be flown to Wichita for additional treatment, according to Liberal Fire Chief Kelly Kirk.
“The victim was transported to Southwest Medical Center in critical condition, and he was subsequently transferred to Wichita for further care,” Kirk noted in a Thursday press release.
A neighbor identified the victim as Dwight Beechum, though authorities couldn’t immediately confirm that.
Firefighters received the call shortly after sunrise.
“At 7:21 a.m. (Thursday) morning, Liberal firefighters were called to the scene of a residential structure fire at 621 S. Washington Ave.,” Kirk noted. “The first fire units arrived on scene at 7:24 a.m. to find heavy smoke (coming) from the entire residence and a lone male occupant in the front yard suffering from severe burns and smoke inhalation injuries.”
Sixteen firefighters and two fire engines had the blaze under control by 7:42 a.m., according to Kirk, but four animals died in the fire.
“Four pets – two adult dogs and two puppies – perished in the fire from smoke inhalation,” Kirk added.
“The fire was contained mainly to two rooms of the residence,” Kirk reported.
However, Kirk noted the cause of the fire is under investigation.
“Liberal Fire investigators, in cooperation with investigators from the Liberal Police Department and the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office are working to determine … the cause of the fire,” he noted.
“The fire is believed to be accidental, and while the area of origin has been determined, the cause remains unknown at this time,” Kirk reported. “Investigative efforts will continue to try and determine the exact cause of the fire.”
All units and personnel, including Liberal Police Department, Seward County EMS and Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, cleared from the scene at 2:20 p.m.
Authorities did place “Fire Line Do Not Cross” yellow tape completely around the house to keep people away from the scene of the investigation.