OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Two families escaped a fire early Monday morning in a duplex. Firefighters credit a smoke alarm for saving their lives.
It happened at 77th and Kessler around 3:30 a.m., where the families have since been trying to salvage their belongings from the burned-out building.
The Overland Park Fire Department says a smoke alarm woke up a woman who was asleep in the basement of one of the units. She smelled smoke and evacuated three or four others in one of the units.
Those who escaped then knocked on their neighbor's door, but they couldn't rouse anyone. Luckily, a relative of the people living next door was nearby. He had a key to the home and went inside to get a woman and her three children out safely.
The kids tell FOX 4 News it was a scary experience.
"I didn't know what was happening," said Akeeria Bays, 12, who escaped the fire. "When we came outside, I just stood by the pole and then I got pushed, because the fire was coming through the ceiling. And it was going through the windows and the windows were busted."
Firefighters are thankful that everyone escaped safely and no one was hurt.
Both units have been declared uninhabitable by the Overland Park Fire Department. The Red Cross is putting up the families in a hotel for the next three days.
The duplex has been declared a total loss. Still, the families hope to salvage photos, backpacks and other personal items.
Fire crews said they think the fire began in the kitchen of the duplex.
“Obviously they were very thankful to be out and be alive and thankful,” Jason Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Overland Park Fire Department, said. “For the work the crews did, they did a great job. They really knocked this down quick and to know that everyone is safe is the most important thing.”
Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the fire.