Firefighters Battle Fire At The Pines Apartments | BBQ Smoker To Blame

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Smoke and flames poured from the roof of the Pines Apartments a complex when firefighters arrived just before 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night.

Officials said the fire was reported at 9:51 p.m. Tuesday night by a person on the balcony of an upper level of the apartment complex located at 234 S.W. Gage Blvd.

While fire crews attacked the fire, rescue crews assisted with evacuating tenants and several animals from the complex. 12 people self-evacuated from the complex safely. Firefighters on the scene said they rescued three dogs, two cats and a bearded dragon.

Twelve people from ten different apartments were displaced as a result of the fire. The American Red Cross assisted with emergency aid for all twelve people.

An investigation revealed that fire started on the balcony of apartment #5. Investigators classified the fire as an accident and said it was more than likely caused by BBQ smoker that was too close to some combustible materials.

Firefighters said 10 apartments were damaged as well as the roof and attic. Estimated dollar loss is $180,000.

The Gage Blvd. exits off I-70 were shut down because of the fire for nearly three hours, but reopened to traffic around 1:15 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The Pines have not been immune to disasters like this. In June 2008, a fire attributed to unattended cooking destroyed 10 units, while back in 1979, fire destroyed 90 units. In addition, in June 2004, wind knocked over a Kansas Highway Patrol communications tower. It came crashing down on two cars and a building at The Pines.

Firefighters on the scene of a large fire at the Pines Apartments in Topeka on March 18, 2014 (WIBW/Jovarie Downing)