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Two people found dead Monday in 'suspicious' fire, investigation underway

Vivion Oak Apartment Fire July 2022
Posted at 9:45 PM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 00:23:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the buildings at the Vivion Oak Apartments is just a shell.

Investigators want to know what ignited a fire that killed two people Monday morning in the building at 5056 North Oak Trafficway.

Several neighbors told KSHB 41 News they woke up to pops, screaming then an explosion.

The pre-dawn showers did little to control the massive fire.

"All reporting--fire showing, with the report of shots fired and one party possibly trapped—unknown apartment number," a dispatcher said in radio traffic captured by Broadcastify.com

The first wave of KCFD firefighters quickly called for reinforcements as a wall of flames ripped through three-story apartment building.

Fire department radio traffic revealed initial crews ran into water supply issues while setting up hoses

Firefighter: Command to safety we're gonna be delayed on the plug we're having trouble with this one.
Command: Copy that. Next--give me another plug--let's get another water coming in off North Oak.
Firefighter: We're about out of water as well.

The fast-moving fire startled residents in nearby buildings at the apartment complex.

"I was afraid that it was going to catch the trees on fire and spread so I started getting my most important documents together so I could leave if that was the case," Ed Mertz, a neighbor said

The fire became so intense crews fought it from the outside until they could do a search of the fire-ravaged building.

"Shut down your master stream for right now we're going to try an interior attack on this--looking for one civilian," a KCFD member radioed in.

Crews searched and found two people dead inside the building.

"I was really shocked, and I don’t know who they were, but I just couldn't believe it," Mertz said.

Although early in the investigation, law enforcement is calling the blaze suspicious.

A police spokesperson told KSHB 41 News the deaths haven't been ruled a homicide.

But that could change based on what the autopsies reveal, along with the evidence investigators collected.

The fire destroyed about three dozen apartments and the Red Cross helped seven people with immediate needs like shelter after Monday's fire.

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 P3Tips.com.

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