Fire crews were able to quickly put out a blaze in central Topeka Wednesday night.
The Topeka Fire Department has ruled it to be an arson. TFD says the fire started in a back enclosed porch of the complex.
Crews were called to the 500 block of south west Clay shortly after 5:30 p.m.
When firefighters first arrived at the scene, flames were reported showing from a house with apartments in it, and heavy black smoke coming from the home.
The home had 6 apartments inside. It’s not known how many of the units were occupied.
A good Samaritan rescued one apartment resident, Kimberly Conway, from the balcony of the building. Conway was on the phone with her daughter when she came face to face with the fiery flames. “So we open up the front door and black smoke was just covering the hallway,” Conway said.
With no way to get out, she ran to the back porch and screamed for help – and that’s what came.
“Some guy came with a ladder and helped us off the porch and then the fire department showed up,” Conway said.
By then the hero was gone. “When our guys got around there, there wasn’t anybody back there,” said shift supervisor Mike Thompson, “But we went ahead and set our own ladders just to make sure.”
Despite frigid temperatures, crews put out the blaze within half an hour.
“A lot of times the hydrants will freeze up and we’ll have trouble getting water, that didnt happen tonight, everything worked out real good. as you can see we have a lot of water down which is turning into ice real quick, it’s dangerous for the firefighters to walk on, they got their air packs on, if they fall down they get injured, we’re throwing ice melt and everything down to try to alleviate that,” Thompson said.
With none of her belongings, the cold weather does concern Conway.
“Everything i own is in there, everything we own is in that place there,” she said.
But this woman said she couldn’t escape the danger without the help of that mystery man.
“It was so much smoke and so much fire coming up the stairs that we had to go out the back and there’s no way to get off, but somebody came and helped us with a ladder,” Co
Crews got the fire under control in 15 to 20 minutes.
The Red Cross is helping three displaced residents with food, lodging and clothing.
Anyone who has tips or information regarding this case should contact Crime Stoppers at (785) 234-0007.