Updated, 8:20 a.m. Tuesday: Fire officials in Overland Park say “skeleton crews” are on hand Tuesday, monitoring the smoldering remains of a massive fire that destroyed an unfinished four-story apartment complex yesterday.
The fire also badly damaged another apartment building under construction and damaged at least 17 homes nearby, destroying 8 of them, according to Overland Park city officials.
Jason Rhodes with the Overland Park Fire Department said at least 40 investigators will begin examining the site Tuesday. At this point, he says, they do not suspect arson or any other "nefarious" cause for the 8-alarm fire.
"We're going to have to interview the construction crews that were on the scene, see what they know, to start and paint a picture to put this thing together," he said.
Overland Park city officials will also be on the scene Tuesday, looking to help residents of the homes damaged by the fire who have been displaced. The damaged apartment buildings were unoccupied.Residents whose homes were not damaged have been allowed back into their homes.
Updated, 9 p.m. Monday: Firefighters from across the metro responded to an 8-alarm blaze in Overland Park Monday afternoon that continued to smolder into the evening.
At least 17 homes burned after a fire at an apartment complex under construction at College and Switzer crossed over to a neighboring subdivision.
It's likely more homes suffered damage from heat and smoke, according to Overland Park Fire Chief Bryan Dehner. All residential fires were contained as of 8 p.m., though fire officials continue to monitor the situation.
— Overland Park, KS (@opcares) March 21, 2017
Three firefighters were transported to hospitals. All are reportedly in stable condition.
First responders have established a perimeter and are asking people to stay out of the area. Dehner expected firefighters to remain on scene for at least a day, if not longer.
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Overland Park firefighters are battling a blaze that consumed a four-story apartment complex under construction and quickly spread to neighboring homes.
Jason Rhodes, media manager for the Overland Park Fire Department, described the fire at the CityPlace development at College and Switzer as “tremendous,” the worst he’d seen in his ten years with the department.
“(It’s a) rapidly-growing fire, probably a lot of fuel in there with all the construction material and whatnot,” Rhodes said at a news conference. “The winds have pushed a lot of the embers and some of the heat exposure to the south where we’ve got a subdivision of homes that abuts this property.”
At 5 p.m., about a dozen homes were burning and Overland Park requested assistance from neighboring fire agencies.
“As bad as the embers blowing was the direct heat,” Rhodes said. “It was close enough to this complex, and that fire was large enough, it was just heating these structures up to the point of ignition.”
— Daniel K. (@worldisall) March 20, 2017
The neighborhood has been evacuated, and no injuries have been reported yet.
“It’s a bit of a war zone down there, quite frankly,” Rhodes said.
Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.