High winds feed Raytown apartment fire

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RAYTOWN, Mo. -- Six people were looking for a new place to live Sunday after a fire tore through their apartment complex.

Damages from the fire have been estimated at $300,000.  There were no injuries, but firefighters said the apartment's smoke detectors were not working.

Fire crews told FOX 4 News they knew they had a battle on their hands the moment they arrived on the scene.  Flames were shooting from the roof, being fed by the fierce winds.

From the front of the apartments located at 54th and Ditzler in Raytown, it's hard to tell there was even a fire.  But the back of the complex shows what firefighters were up against just after 11:00 am Sunday.

"There were flames and smoke pouring out the back of the structure," Tom Ratterman, fire investigator for the Raytown Fire Department, told Fox 4 News.

Ratterman says it appears careless smoking may have been the cause of the fire.  The blaze completely burned the upstairs apartment and the one underneath.

Mix the blaze with Sunday's gusty winds and you can imagine how difficult things got for fire crews.

"It made it hard, because the wind came in the front of the complex and fed the fire and pushed it all the way through," Ratterman explained.

The six people looking for a new place to live have already fell on hard times in the past.  FOX 4 News has learned the people living in the apartments were a part of an organization known as Stepping Stones.  According to the group's website, they help people between the ages of 15 - 21, who are homeless or have been in trouble in the past.  The group is helping the six people now homeless due to the fire, find a new place to stay.

A total of three units in the apartment complex have been deemed unlivable as a result of Sunday's fire.

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