KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Firefighters battling a blaze at a Kansas City apartment building that sent six people to the hospital were met with “worse-case” conditions Wednesday night because of the building’s design, a chief on the scene said.
Fire crews were called just before 9:30 p.m. to the senior housing building, 1800 Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard, when smoke was spotted on the 10th floor. Crews were able to put out the fire around 9:45 p.m.
The fire caused about $13,000 to the building and its contents, a fire department spokesman said Thursday. It was caused by careless smoking in an apartment bedroom.
While the fire was contained to a single unit on the 10th floor, smoke was allowed to flow freely through the building because of its open design, according to the fire chief on scene.
"At the time it was constructed, it was allowed to be built without sprinklers,” the chief said, “and a open atrium building without sprinklers is our worst case scenario."
The top three floors, the 10th through the 12th, were evacuated while firefighters worked to put out the blaze.
Heat was also a major concern for fire crews and those who were forced to leave their homes. Temperatures were still well into the 90s Wednesday night, so the Kansas City Police Department called in a city bus to hold residents who had been evacuated.
Firefighters tell 41 Action News there were several oxygen tanks in the apartment where the fire started, which helped feed the fire with small explosions.
"I started smelling it probably around 9 o'clock,” said a man who lives next door to the apartment who was being taken from the building on a stretcher. “Then around 9:15 I heard the first blast...I thought it was coming right through my wall."
One person was taken to the hospital in what was described as critical condition. The other five had non life-threatening injuries.
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