Firefighters rush to extinguish blaze at KC icons Hotel Savoy and Savoy Grill

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City landmark was surrounded by fire trucks Thursday afternoon, as smoke and fire damaged much of the lower levels at Hotel Savoy and the Savoy Grill. People who call the building home were lucky enough to escape alive, but they're still not sure how soon they'll be able to call the historic icon home again.

Smoke billowed from the windows, as Kansas Citians nearby stopped in their tracks to see a piece of the city's history surrounded by firefighters trying to save the building.

"I looked out my side window and I saw flames and I just- I freaked, and so I grabbed my dogs," Sarai Speer-Lee said.

She was home with some friends Thursday afternoon when just before four o’clock the smoke alarm went off. At first she didn't think much of it, but eventually figured she better double check. That's when she realized it was time to leave.

"Went to try to go down the stairwell and it was filled with smoke, and so we ran over to the other side of the building," she explained.

Speer-Lee and her friends got out safely, but the experience was traumatic.

"As soon as I got out that door and I got around the corner, I fell.  I broke down, and then to see all of this, it's hard.  This is probably the scariest thing that's ever happened in my life," she said.

Firefighters worked on putting out all the hot spots for about two hours, and KCFD Chief Paul Berardi believes most of the smoke and fire was contained to the lower levels. It's unknown how the historical landmarks inside the building survived, such as Harry Truman's booth in Savoy Grill.

But Speer-Lee says she's relieved everyone in the building and those fighting the fire are safe. FOX 4 was told earlier Thursday afternoon that the fire started in the kitchen, as employees were getting ready to serve dinner. The exact cause or the extent of the damage to the building remains unknown.