Harrisonville firefighters were at apartments shortly before massive blaze left 27 homeless

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. -- Harrisonville firefighters were called to building 2205 at Twin Oaks Apartments Thursday afternoon and ended up leaving a short time before it erupted in flames.

The fire spread to five buildings and forced 59 people from their apartments initially, 27 have now been left homeless.

Video shot by a FOX 4 viewer shows the flames erupting from a Harrisonville apartment building.

Sherry Giles and Aundrea Coltrin spotted the fire and knew there were people inside who needed help getting out.

“My boyfriend’s grandparents live in the one that was completely destroyed and they are in elderly and by the time we got them out the whole top of it was engulfed,” Giles said.

“It was scary, but my main concern was getting everyone out as safe as possible,” Coltrin said.

Ryun Goodfield was playing video games in a downstairs unit when the fire started.

“We hear a bunch of people out in the hallways knocking on everyone’s door banging. I opened the door and no one is there but I heard a bunch of people screaming upstairs,” Goodfield said.

But some residents were slow to evacuate, ironically, because they’d already seen fire trucks outside.

“They said the fire department had just left not too long before when I went in there they didn’t believe me at first.” So one of them ran out and was like oh yeah it is on fire,” Coltrin said.

Acting Harrisonville Fire Chief Eric Myler confirmed firefighters were called on a problem with a chimney earlier Thursday. Neighbors said a resident put plastic in the chimney along with wood chips.

The blaze that followed firefighters leaving spread to surrounding buildings.

“They had pieces of embers from main fire fall on the roofs, this buildings as you can see have wood slats and roof is wood slat also, so when the hot embers landed on them they sparked small fires,” Harrisonville Fire Investigator Lt. Chris Osterberg

Firefighters from as many as nine different departments battled the blaze. Major operations ended about five hours later, though a handful of firefighters remained on scene past 10 p.m. No one was hurt.

The Red Cross helped 59 residents who were evacuated from the five buildings and took them to a local church for warmth and food.

Those from the other four apartment buildings were allowed to return home Thursday night while the 11 families who lost everything stayed at a hotel.