RUSSELL — The cause of a building fire that displaced nine Russell families early this week has been determined as electrical malfunction and likely originated in the apartment complex’s laundry room.
The fire was reported Monday afternoon at a nine-unit apartment complex on East Wisconsin Street. Firefighters and law enforcement checked all apartments and evacuated the scene; no injuries have been reported. A family pet was rescued by firefighters, according to a media release issued by the Russell City Fire Department.
The building sustained heavy damage and is not habitable at this time, Fire Chief Shane Preston said Thursday. The fire reportedly burned clear through the roof of the two-story complex.
“The whole complex is unlivable right now. The fire was centered around the center of the building, the center apartments,” he said. “But the other apartments suffered smoke and fire damage.”
The residents displaced by the fire can receive assistance through the Salina chapter of American Red Cross, and the Russell Rotary Rescue chapter also was on-site to provide immediate assistance to the victims.
Responding agencies included the Russell City Fire Department, Russell County Sheriff’s office, Russell Grant Township Fire Department, Gorham Fire Department, Russell Police Department, Russell County EMS, as well as the Kansas State Fire Marshall’s office, which assisted in the investigation.
Preston said he was thankful the fire occurred in the afternoon, when fewer residents likely were in their homes, as opposed to the middle of the night.
“It had a bad ending, but it could have been a lot worse,” he said,