Firefighters say Sunday morning Troost Avenue started in rooftop greenhouse

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One historic section of Troost Avenue was covered with first responders on Sunday morning.

An old apartment building, believed to date back to the 1920s, caught fire, and one rented says he nearly slept through it all.

One of the three men living in that building at 36th and Troost says he didn`t know the building was on fire. Will Vannerson, who lives in the building and maintains an art studios there,  says he was asleep and so were his two roommates, when a buddy called to tell him his rental home was on fire.

Kansas City Fire Battalion Chief Nino Bruno told FOX 4 News the fire started in a small greenhouse that sits on the building's roof. Chief Bruno says responding firefighters called in for extra help once they realized the fire centered around a building rather than a home.

"Upstairs can seem like a different world," Vannerson said.

Vannerson has rented in that building for eight months, and says he was asleep on the building's first floor. Vannerson says he had no clue the apartment building's highest points were burning.

"I thought, 'well, it doesn't seem on fire'," Vannerson shrugged. "I stepped outside and saw a rowdy active smoke coming from the top of the building."

"There was a greenhouse up on top of the roof. They called 911 and we responded with a regular alarm. On the scene, we ordered a working fire response. We had flames from the roof," Chief Bruno said.

Everyone escaped the burning building without getting hurt. Chief Bruno says it's not uncommon for fires to start while people try to sleep, and there's one way to safeguard against it.

"That's why it's very important to have working smoke detectors. Everybody in the city. We have a free program. Call your fire marshal service, and we'll come out and even put it up for you. A free smoke detector," Chief Bruno said.

Vannerson says he believes the building has at least one working smoke detector. One of the building's owners told FOX 4 News he had no comment on the fire. Vannerson says he has friends who can give him a temporary place to stay while fire investigators try to figure out what started the fire.  KCFD officials say the American Red Cross is also helping displaced residents find places to stay and meals to eat.