A car fleeing police crashed into an east Kansas City apartment building Tuesday afternoon, causing an explosion that tore off one side of the building.
The explosion occurred shortly after 3 p.m., after police investigating a burglary followed a red Mercury Grand Marquis to the apartment building in the 2000 block of Wheeling Avenue and tried to arrest the occupants, said Capt. Dan Graves of the Kansas City Police Department.
The Grand Marquis attempted to flee, driving onto the grass and performing a “doughnut” on the lawn before crashing into an apartment building with about 12 units, police said.
The crash damaged the gas lines to the building, allowing gas to escape into the air. Police helped to evacuate the apartments, moving people away from the building. Utility workers and fire officials were called to the scene.
No one was injured when a gas explosion minutes later ripped one face of the building apart.
Crews from the Kansas City Fire Department responded to fight the resulting fire.
The American Red Cross said it was helping 24 people, including 19 chilldren who were affected by the fire. Five families were to get emergency help, including lodging and food. Red Cross caseworkers were to follow up with the families Wednesday to connect them with more services.
The incident had begun when the Grand Marquis was identified as possibly stolen during a burglary. Graves followed the car in an unmarked vehicle.
Along the way, the people in the Grand Marquis met up with a silver Honda and drove to the apartment complex on Wheeling Avenue. After the crash and explosion, two of three people in the Grand Marquis were arrested, while one escaped. The driver and passenger of the silver Honda were also arrested.
The vehicles contained items that police suspected were evidence of burglary, Graves said. That investigation continued.
Graves complimented the police officers and others who helped evacuate residents from the building before the explosion.
“I’m just glad everyone is fine,” he said.