Residents return to charred homes to see what belongings can be saved

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Just hours after an apartment building on Kansas City's southside went up in flames, crews were on the scene ready to help residents sort through their charred belongings.

The fire, which forced dozens of people from their homes, destroyed a large portion of the Coach House Apartments early Tuesday morning.

Chain link fences had to be brought in to section off the damaged building and vehicles.

Many of the residents FOX 4 reporters spoke with recalled hearing popping sounds, similar to fire crackers, prior to seeing flames or feeling the heat.

"There were a lot of bangs and explosions and pops," Caleb Hickey, who lives in the complex, said. "Our bedroom window looks right out over the parking lot, so I picked up the window and saw maybe 10 people walking around, laughing and yelling. All of the sudden, we saw people running up the stairs to the different apartment buildings."

Fireworks likely caused fire that sent carport and apartment complex up in flames

Hickey said they started banging on doors and ringing door bells "like crazy."

Firefighters on the scene say fireworks may be to blame, but the specific cause of the fire is still under investigation.

One neighbor tells FOX 4 she woke up to a popping sound and initially hid, thinking it was gunshots.  She says she then called police, and they told her it was actually a fire and she needed to get out of the building.

FOX 4's Nicole DiAntonio spoke with a mom who says she is thankful she was able to get her children out safely.

"I was really scared," Alexis Robinson said. "My first thought was just to get my kids safe and out of the apartment. I didn't know where it (the fire) was coming."

Robinson recalls hearing a man screaming around the time the fire broke out. She and her family were safe. No injuries have been reported in connection with the fire.