Man rushes to help others as fire spreads through Overland Park neighborhood

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - During the massive fire at the CityPlace apartment complex on Monday, residents of nearby neighborhoods that saw other fires stepped in to help neighbors in need.

Restaurant manager Mike Oliver, who lives on Ballentine Street, first realized the fire was happening when his wife ran inside his home.

"I come out and I look and there's just flames, nothing but flames," he explained. "It was just raining fire, embers, and ashes basically."

Overland Park apartment fire

Within moments, Oliver took off down his street to see if anyone needed assistance.

"I immediately started going door to door asking people if anybody is in the house," he told 41 Action News. "It looked like the whole neighborhood basically was going to catch on fire." 

Some of the homes that Oliver stopped by were on fire at the time he ran in to help.

"There was one that was caught on fire and the lady went back in to get her cat and then her cat got away from her. So I went back in there," he said.

Oliver told 41 Action News that he had to break several windows to get in some of the homes to rescue animals inside, which left him with a few cuts on his hand.

At one point inside a burning home, the father of three children said he worried about his own safety.

"There was one house that was completely filled with smoke and I thought about my family," he said. 

Oliver showed 41 Action News a burn he had on one of his toes as a result of running over embers during his rescue efforts.

He said he never regretted his decision to help others.

"You never know who's in there. We have old people living on this street. We have families," he explained. "I think that's what any person should do if they see that they have the chance they to go save somebody."

Residents in the nearby neighborhoods reported seeing other people stepping in to help.

Amy Keegan, who lives near the apartment complex, said she saw a group of men going to assist fire crews.

"They were coming down with a wagon of ice and water handing it out to the folks fighting the fires," she said.

By the end of Monday, Oliver said he may pursue becoming a firefighter after his experience helping others on his street.

"I'm all about helping people," he said. "I think that's what any person should do if they see that they have the chance they to go save somebody."

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Tom Dempsey can be reached at Tom.Dempsey@KSHB.com.

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