KCK firefighters lucky to escape with only minor injuries when upper floor collapses

KANSAS CITY, KAN. -- Three firefighters were injured when a floor collapsed while they were putting out a house fire in Kansas City, Kansas. The fire happened just before 3 a.m. Sunday morning in a vacant home located in the 1600 block of North 7th Street.

Thankfully all three first responders are alive and out of the hospital at this time. Those who saw this early morning fire say it lit up the whole block.

“I was just looking out my window in an instant and I just heard the ambulance come and the firefighters and then I looked out again and it was on fire out of nowhere,” said Latrice Paul who witnessed the fire.

Charles Banks lives near the home that caught fire and says his wife called 911 when they first noticed flames.

“My wife thought it was raining or something, a crackling sound and when she looked out the window it wasn’t raining it was fire and she just said call 9-1-1 the house is on fire next door,” he explained.

Banks says the home next to his has been vacant for at least a decade. The fire made him a little nervous because there’s only about seven feet of space between the two homes.

Firefighters arrived within minutes and were able to get the blaze under control pretty quickly, but when they were putting out hot spots on an upper floor when it gave way. Four firefighters fell to the first floor.

Two were taken to the hospital immediately from the fire scene, while a third was taken to the hospital some time later.

“We had an incident where part of the second floor collapsed and a couple firefighters had to go to the hospital with minor injuries,” said Chief Morris Letcher, Battalion Chief with the Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department.

Fire officials say they train for structure collapses, but work hard to avoid them.

“It’s scary, as an incident commander you just have to try to prepare and try to be mindful of things that can happen when you’re at a fire. Due to our training, we look for signs to give us a heads up as far as if that might be possible,” said Letcher.

But given the condition of the home, that was difficult.

“Vacant buildings always present challenges in a sense, you never know who’s been in there, what type of condition the floor is in, the roof and the structure, how long it’s been vacant and things like that,” Letcher explained.

All three firefighters involved in the collapse are now home from the hospital.

“That was a good thing because that was my main concern, I was asking the guy, 'is everybody okay?' and he said, 'yeah' so that was good,” said Banks.

Fire officials estimate there's about $35,000 worth of damage at the home. They’re working to determine an official cause.