Investigators sifting through debris from last week’s deadly fire planned to continue working throughout this week, though possible thunderstorms loom in the weather forecast for Friday.
The Oct. 12 fire on Independence Avenue killed two Kansas City firefighters, setting off an extensive investigation led by a team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF brought in experts to search for the cause of the fire and detail what happened when the building collapsed.
The investigators have reached a crucial portion of the site in what remains of the first floor on the east side, where the first collapse of the building occurred.
“And that’s where we want to be, as far as the fire scene goes,” said John Ham, a public information officer for the ATF. “We’re down to working everything by hand.”
On Wednesday, the team used hand shovels and trowels to remove the remains of the building in five-gallon buckets. That work will likely go on through the rest of the week, but the investigators also watched the weather forecast, which holds an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Rain alone might not stop those efforts, Ham said. The burning building already had been doused with water by firefighters. But a thunderstorm with lighting could suspend work at the scene.
“We want to get done as quickly as we can, but not at the expense of the investigation,” Ham said.
The ATF has not made public any conclusions about the fire while the investigation continues.
Firefighters Larry Leggio and John Mesh died battling the blaze. Mesh’s funeral was held Wednesday.