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Waldo Heights resident's apartment ransacked after fire

Waldo Heights Apartments.jpg
Posted at 10:22 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 23:49:33-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tenants from the Waldo Heights Apartment complex fire last month have been displaced and without their belongings for weeks.

A bad situation got worse for one resident, when she finally got the chance to go back inside her unit for the first time since Dec. 28 only to find it had been ransacked.

"I was told that things would be secure and not to worry about my belongings because I would be able to get them," resident Rei Wirsig said.

She posted on Facebook that she "was already dreading going back in my apartment to see what was salvageable," but she hoped to find and retrieve a few things she strongly suspected would have been untouched by the fire.

"I was like, 'OK, maybe they moved some stuff whenever they were searching for my cat,' and then I started seeing things that shouldn't have been moved you know?" Wirsig said. "It became very obvious and then I was like, 'Oh my gosh, let me go check this and that was moved, that was gone,' so it was just these little-bitty things that kept unfolding."

Wirsig said money, tax forms and her birth certificate are among the items that went missing.

"All of it's gone," she said. "Now, I have to file a police report and put some type of monitor out on my identity."

The Kansas City Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released the building back to the owner on Jan. 5 after completing its on-site investigation of the fire, according to Senior Investigator and Public Information Officer John Ham.

KCPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Jake Becchina said city police officers who'd been securing the scene left once the building reverted to the responsibility of its owner again at that time.

The city opened a case regarding the building at 8024 Troost on Dec. 29, according to the KCMO Dangerous Buildings List.

John Baccala, a spokesperson for KCMO Neighborhoods and Housing Services, said the case was handed off from federal investigators a few days ago.

With the building listed as dangerous by the city, the owner of the property is required to close off entry to the property by boarding the building at least eight feet from ground level.

Baccala said the owner's insurance company typically wants to do its own investigation, which is happening in this case.

As of Thursday afternoon, the building's first floor was boarded up and a fence had been installed around the property.

41 Action News reached out to the property owner, but received no comment.

The ATF is awaiting lab results to determine a cause, which could lead to a criminal case.

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