National News

2 children killed in fire at apartment complex in Overland Park

Posted August 15

— Authorities are searching for what caused a fire at an apartment complex that took the life of two young children early Tuesday morning.

Fire crews were called at about 2:30 a.m. to the Colonial Gardens Apartments, located in the 8800 block of Broadmoor Court.

While on the way to the scene, units received reports of victims trapped in the complex and immediately called for a second alarm.

Firefighters say a family was on the bottom floor of the apartment complex when the fire started. They say an infant and a seven-year-old were able to make it out but a three-year-old and a five-year-old were killed in the flames.

The mother of the children was taken to an area hospital with minor burns. The children's father was seen walking around the area, distraught over the loss of his children. Two men were also badly burned and had to jump from a second story unit to escape the flames. They were taken to an area hospital to treat their burns and the injuries sustained when jumping from the building.

Two firefighters were also treated for heat exhaustion. One was taken to an area hospital, the other was treated at the scene.

Firefighters say the fire started in a first-floor apartment and spread to a second story unit.

Officials say the building did not have working fire alarms or a sprinkler system. Smoke alarms are required on every story of a residence, according to the state fire marshall.

Overland Park Fire Department Public Information Officer Jason Rhodes says the city also requires sprinkler systems in multifamily units, but the Colonial Gardens Apartments were grandfathered in since they were built before the sprinkler systems were required.

The question I would ask, did we hear any working smoke detectors? My understanding is, we did not," Overland Park Fire Chief Bryan Dehner said. "Closest we heard was in the fourth building, farthest removed from the fire. So, we have a lot to figure out. A lot of education we'll try to take out of this and improve the prevention efforts in this area."

Each of the 12 units has been evacuated as officials put out hot spots and investigate the cause of the fire. Four of the units were damaged by the flames.

By daybreak here, is when the investigation will really begin," Dehner said. "The police department, along with our fire investigators, have requested the coroner's office. The crime scene investigators will be here to do the photo and process the scene. So, we are just starting out."

The Red Cross is assisting between 15 and 20 people displaced by the fire.

"We're still working through the process of the additional affected folks," Dehner said. "A number of people were displaced from the building. We have not begun working on that yet. We're just taking care of the patients we've identified and making sure the fire is out."

Neighbor Lisa Lewis said she doesn't know the family, but the news of what happened upsets her.

"That is just so sad. I don't know what I would do if it was me. I feel so sorry for that family," Lewis said. "I just didn't know what happened. I just saw all these trucks and I'm not used to seeing a lot of fire trucks out here."

Copyright 2017 KCTV (Meredith Corp.). All rights reserved.

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