ATF ‘unable to rule out arson’ so far in Waldo Heights fire

Final determination of a cause awaits lab analysis
waldo heights apt fire.jpg
Posted at 1:47 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 18:33:25-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has concluded its initial investigation of the fire that destroyed a building Dec. 28 at the Waldo Heights Apartments.

While no final cause has been determined, the ATF announced Tuesday that “we have been unable to rule out arson as the cause of this fire at this point and so we will continue to treat this as a criminal investigation."

The ATF sent one of three National Response Teams to help Kansas City, Missouri, police and fire investigators determine how the fire, which injured two people and displaced more than 30 families, was started.

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Federal and local authorities “have thoroughly documented the scene, collected evidence and used ATF trained Accelerant Detection Canines to search for indications of a set fire,” the ATF said in a statement.

The scene was released back to the property owners at noon on Tuesday and the 8000 block of Troost Avenue should reopen later in the afternoon.

More than 100 residents and other witnesses, including firefighters who helped put out the blaze on the second and third floors of the building along with a range of 911 callers, were interviewed as part of the investigation.

But a final determination on the cause won’t be available until laboratory analysis.

“We have sent several pieces of debris from the fire scene to the ATF Fire Research Laboratory in Ammendale, Maryland, and our final cause determination is dependent on those findings,” the ATF said in a statement.

More conclusive findings may be released in “the next few days,” but the ATF said that timeline is dependent on the findings at the Fire Research Laboratory.

The four cats and one dog recovered at the scene in the days after the fire were turned over to KC Pet Project, which has reunited all of the animals with their owners.

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477). Callers can remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward, if information provided leads to an arrest.

There was another fire that left some Waldo Heights residents without homes in October 2020.

For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the 41 Action News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015. Read the 41 Action News Mug Shot Policy.