Flames shot 50 feet in the air and engulfed a 24-unit apartment complex in Blue Springs, displacing at least 20 people on Independence Day. It’s unclear whether fireworks were to blame.
One of the residents, John English, 38, had been relaxing with friends in his one-bedroom apartment he’d moved into two days earlier when someone knocked on his door and yelled: “Get out! Fire, fire fire!”
“I thought it was a prank,” English said nearly two hours later, as a ladder truck continued to pour water on the heavily damaged structure. “It sure wasn’t.”
Firefighters from the Central Jackson County Protection District were called to Building 600 at the Autumn Place Apartments on Candletree Drive just east of Woods Chapel Road just after 6 p.m.
Assistant Fire Chief Eddie Saffell said his department soon called for help from Independence and Lee’s Summit fire departments.
One resident was taken to the hospital with possible smoke inhalation. Officials were unable to quickly determine a cause of the fire, but residents said they heard that children had been playing with fireworks in a hallway.
Elsewhere, the dry weather combined with fireworks kept firefighters busy.
“I’m not even keeping track of the grass fire numbers,” Kansas City Fire Department spokesman Lew Hendricks said in a written statement.
The department had handled at least six structural fires caused by fireworks.
Johnson County handled at least 15 grass fires Wednesday evening. Kansas City, Kan., firefighters said they handled about 70 fireworks-related calls.