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ATF investigators gain access to building, race against winter storm to determine cause of KC apartment fire that hospitalized 2


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    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV/KSMO) — Fire investigators from a national ATF team were able to gain entry Thursday morning to the Troost Avenue apartment building that burned up in a massive fire Monday night, as they work against the clock to figure out what caused the blaze that injured two people.

A representative with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said their team worked with the Kansas City Fire Department on Wednesday to brace areas of the building that investigators need to access. With the building now stabilized, investigators are able to make entry Thursday morning and begin work on determining the origin of the fire and the cause.

With that part of the investigation now beginning, the ATF has dozens of investigators on-scene, as they hope the large number of resources allows them to make a determination before Thursday night’s anticipated winter storm moves in.

“We plan to do as much as possible today in hopes of beating the weather that is moving in,” said John Ham with the ATF.

Two people were hospitalized in that Monday night fire at the Waldo Heights Apartments. Two women jumped off of a third-floor balcony to escape the flames. One woman suffered a broken back and has been hospitalized since.

Local ATF officials welcomed in a national team in the days after the fire.

“Just because we are bringing in the team doesn’t mean we think it was a set fire,” Ham said. “At this point, we have absolutely no idea until we can get in there and start looking at the damage and all the things our fire investigators will look at.”

Before multiple fire crews got to the apartment building, police officers were sent out to the building for a disturbance call. When police arrived the building was on fire, so they weren’t able to contact anyone about the disturbance.

Police say as part of the investigation they will look into if the disturbance call was linked to the fire or if it was simply a call from someone in the building hearing people trying to escape from a fire that had already started.

Firefighters responded around 8 a.m. to the fire call at 8024 Troost Ave., Waldo Heights Apartments. Crews quickly worked to douse the flames and deploy a ladder to some of the building’s balconies to rescue those outside.

At least one to three other people were rescued from a third-story balcony by firefighters via ladder.

A primary and secondary search was conducted, but no one else was found inside.

The fire then began burning out of control, so crews exited the apartment and began a defensive strategy from the outside with the hoses on the ladder trucks.

Six ambulances were ordered. The fire appears to have started on the third floor and was contained to the third floor before it eventually burst through the roof.

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