Natural gas leak likely caused massive house fire, victim's name released

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Topeka Fire Dept. investigators say Monday evening's massive house fire that sent smoke high over the city was likely an accident. More likely than not, they say, it was caused by a natural gas leak inside the house.

(WIBW/Grant Stephens)

The Fire Marshal identified the man injured in the blaze as Vernon L Fisher. The 76-year-old man was taken to the hospital with life threatening injuries, TFD said.

A neighbor had heard the man calling for help and rushed to help him escape from the flames.

Firefighters responded to the home, at 235 NW Knox Ave., shortly before 5:30 p.m. As they pulled up, they could see the two-story home was fully involved. Firefighters struck a defensive position and managed to keep the blaze from spreading, TFD says. They had it contained within a half-hour.

Investigators estimate the fire did approximately $26,000 in damage to the home itself and another $10,000 to the contents of the home. They noted there were no smoke detectors inside the house.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 785-234-0007 or toll-free 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).