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Fire Guts Kansas City Apartment Building

Updated, 11:15 a.m. Friday. About 30 people are displaced after an early morning fire that completely engulfed an apartment building and forced the evacuation of the one next door.

Kansas City Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Cashen says firefighters entered the six-plex at 2660 Lockridge Avenue but were forced to evacuate due to the risk of collapse.

“I know they made it to the second floor with handlines trying to fight the fire,” Cashen said. “They were doing a good job, but it was already fully involved on the third floor, and half of the second floor was going, driving them to their knees. They had to back out.”

Firefighters established a collapse zone before the roof caved in around 6:30 a.m. They continued to douse what remained of the building until a little after 9 a.m.

Cashen described the building as a “total loss.”

“Once Dangerous Buildings has it, they’ll get their bulldozers and loaders out here, and they’ll get it knocked down,” Cashen said.

Two people were taken from the scene by ambulance, one of whom jumped from a second story window. The man who jumped returned, only to tell paramedics he thought he needed to go back to the hospital. Cashen described both as being in stable condition.

Cashen said he expected residents evacuated from another six-plex next door would be able to return later Friday, though the Dangerous Buildings team would need to inspect the rubble first.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority dispatched a bus to the scene so residents could wait somewhere warm.

“They don’t know where to go. They don’t know what to do,” said Duane Hallock with the American Red Cross. “We’ll help them think through that. We’ll make sure they have a safe place to stay throughout the day. Tonight, they’ll have a safe and warm place to sleep, and for the next couple of nights we’ll provide that.”

Shirley Bolden with St. Augustine’s Episcopal across the street hurried from her home in Lee’s Summit to open the church to displaced residents and first responders.

She said the church was built in 1889.

“You can tell the structures are very good structures here, so it’s just sad to see buildings go like this,” Bolden said.

Bolden said the building that burned had been fully occupied for the past several months. She said she knows kids live in at least one of the buildings across the street because they often play on the church’s lawn, though she wasn’t sure which building. Some of the families receive assistance from the church’s food pantry, which Bolden hoped would still be able to open Friday.

Though several residents told reporters a burning mattress was to blame, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“That’s going to be the pat answer for a little bit,” Cashen said.

Kyle Palmer is KCUR's morning newscaster. You can follow him on Twitter @kcurkyleElle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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