OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- An overnight fire in Overland Park claimed the lives of two children, and injured half-a-dozen other victims.
Fire investigators are looking into what sparked the deadly apartment fire. They say initially it was believed that the building didn't have working smoke detectors, but the fire department says in an update that the investigation will determine whether they weren't functional or quickly destroyed int he fire.
Two children -- ages 3 and 5-- died before firefighters could reach them. The fire happened at the Colonial Gardens Apartment Complex near 88th and Broadmoor.
“I didn't know how bad it was until the sun came up,” said neighbor Somaya Hodges.
The fire inspector says the building was just inspected in May, and says it passed inspection. The building is not required to have sprinklers or fire extinguishers.
“I freaked out, this morning when I saw how close it was, that it was that close to my apartment,” added Hodges.
Neighbors recalled the scene as firefighters battled the flames overnight and paramedics began treating burn victims.
“I saw the flashing lights on my wall, I saw the reflection of the lights, and then I looked out and I saw the police officers and the fire department running through here and climbing up the ladders,” Hodges said.
Once inside, firefighters found the dead children. Their names have not yet been released.
“It`s very overwhelming to know that some kids passed away behind me,” Hodges added.
Their mother suffered burns and smoke inhalation and went to the hospital. Two of the family's neighbors jumped to safety after they suffered severe burns and other injures.
An investigation is underway to determine if the people living in the building had any warning about the looming danger.
“The closest smoke detector we heard was in the fourth building farthest removed from the fire. We have a lot to figure out, we'll have a lot of education that we'll take out of this, and try to improve the prevention efforts," said Overland Park Fire Chief Bryan Dehner.
The fire damaged four apartments, but firefighters evacuated everyone living in any of building’s 12 units.
Before they are allowed back inside, inspectors will evaluate the building to make sure it's safe.
“It`s a blessing it didn’t spread to all these apartments right here, we`re all in a little area, I was really scared this morning,” said Hodges.
Investigators say it will take time to determine what caused the fire and where it started.