Two people died in a house fire Monday afternoon in the 400 block of Colorado Avenue in Kansas City, according to fire officials.
Kansas City Fire Department officials announced about 3:30 p.m. they were sending several units to the two-story house near the corner of Colorado and Smart avenues, in the Northeast area.
The fire appeared to be extinguished by 5 p.m. Crews found two people dead inside the house. Fire officials and police continued to investigate the fires and the deaths hours later. Sgt. Kari Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Kansas City Police Department, said that the fire does not appear suspicious but that bomb and arson detectives are investigating.
Neighbors said that the house had been vacant and partly boarded up for a long time, but that a man and woman had recently been staying inside the house at night.
Roberto Vega has lived next door to the burned house for about three years, he said, and grew accustomed to seeing the two people enter the vacant house through a rear entrance. He said the woman appeared to be using drugs or alcohol. He did not know their names.
“I saw them about every day,” Vega said. “I can’t believe it.”
Family members at Vega’s home said they thought the fire started on the second floor, which is also where they thought the two people slept. A relative, Irma Mejia, said she was sure the two people weren’t the owners of the house because her family had called police but had been told the house had no owner.
Mejia said the deadly fire next door was upsetting to her family. She wished someone with the city had stopped people from squatting in the vacant house.
“Because that shouldn’t happen,” she said. “That could have been avoided.”