Kids Rescued from Apartment Fire in Vacant Kansas City, KS, Building

May 27, 2024
Kansas City fire officials said the children, ages 2 to 9, were rescued from a makeshift apartment inside a vacant building.

Kendrick Calfee
The Kansas City Star

Firefighters found three children in an apartment that was concealed inside a burning commercial building Saturday.

Crews responded just before 2 a.m. to a fire at Truman Road and Park Avenue. Firefighters went in the back of the two-story building and extinguished the fire quickly, said Michael Hopkins, a spokesman with the Kansas City Fire Department.

The fire extended from a central building to an attached building on the west that shared a roof line, Hopkins said. When firefighters went into the neighboring building, Fire Battalion Chief Ken Swinney noticed multiple doors on the second floor that seemed unusual.

“So they started checking on doors and banging on doors, and one of the kids answered,” Hopkins told The Star. “It was kind of a makeshift apartment up there.”

Hopkins said the children found were 9, 4 and 2 years old. They were found alone and were suffering from smoke inhalation.

The children were evaluated by paramedics and taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital by ambulance. Hopkins said the children tested for high levels of carbon monoxide exposure.

Kansas City Police officers were on the scene blocking traffic as crews worked to extinguish the fire. Police were notified about the children found and the apartment-like area on the second floor.

The children were in the hospital and recovering well as of Saturday morning, Hopkins said.

In a news release Saturday, Hopkins commended the firefighter crews’ diligence that saved the lives of the children. In an interview with The Star, he said the amount of smoke from the fire Saturday morning was dangerous.

“In a situation like this when you’re called to a commercial building and it’s 1, 2 o-clock in the morning, you’re not expecting to find anyone in there,” Hopkins said. “But it is our goal and our practice that we search and clear every structure that we show up to.”

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the children and second-story apartment. The case is being investigated as endangering the welfare of a child, according to Capt. Jake Becchina, a spokesperson with KCPD.

A suspect was detained at the scene, police records show, but they were released Saturday pending further investigation.

Detectives are working with prosecutors and Family Services to present a case file with evidence. Prosecutors will later decide on any applicable charges.

A case entry stated that Family Services will make a determination of placement for the children after they are finished receiving medical treatment.

The KCFD is investigating the cause of the fire. No other information was available Saturday.

Hopkins said he wants to remind parents and guardians not to leave children unattended.

“It’s never a good idea or safe to leave them home, no matter how responsible you think they are or what sort of steps you take to make sure they’re safe,” he said. “In this situation (the fire) occurred in the building next door and ultimately affected those young kids in that apartment.”

“We would just ask that everybody consider that and never leave your little ones unattended,” he said. “You just never know what could happen.”

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