Fire officials say careless smoking by someone squatting in a vacant duplex sparked a fire that heavily damaged the property.
Firefighters responding just before 5 a.m. to the duplex at 17 Maple Street found a working fire in the 1½-story, boarded-up residence.
Crews were able to contain the fire with an interior fire attack, Fire Chief Steven Beer reported, but not before it did extensive damage to the kitchen area of one of the duplexes and caused smoke and heat damage throughout the structure.
Though the building was reported vacant, fire crews searched the building for anyone inside.
Crews were on scene for more than two hours.
At the time of the fire, no gas or electricity were turned on to the home. Fire investigators ruled the cause of this fire as careless use of smoking materials, which ignited nearby clothing.
The two-bedroom, 1,030-square-foot bungalow style home, which was constructed in 1920 and converted into a duplex, was valued at about $66,000, according to Reno County property tax records. Hermans Trailer Park LLC is listed as the property owner for that and two other boarded-up houses on the lot at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Maple.
Assisting the Hutchinson Fire Department were the Hutchinson Police Department, Reno County EMS, Kansas Gas and Westar.