Businesses work to find new homes after devastating North KC fire

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Investigators say a careless cigarette smoker is to blame for a massive fire on Tuesday that gutted a building home to 13 businesses in North Kansas City.

A thick plume of black smoke an deep orange flames shooting into the sky are images now seared in Vic Allred’s mind.

“It was crazy. I was like wow! That’s probably all my records right there!” Allred said.

Allred owns five restaurants, and his corporate office was housed in the building that's now reduced to a shell from Tuesday's fire.

“I’m not holding out a lot of hope there’s really anything that’s going to be recoverable,” Allred said.

He knows at least two weeks’ worth of paperwork and invoices left sitting on desks are now a pile of ash.

A look at the business fire in North Kansas City on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.

“There’s no doubt it will take a lot of effort to kind of recreate the books," he said. "You want to make sure your books are accurate, obviously. We can’t just go, ‘Well!  There was a fire! So by the way, government, we didn’t make any money this year, this month or whatever.’  You just can’t do that kind of stuff."

Although the documents can be eventually fixed, he knows a lot of precious memorabilia inside his office can’t be replaced, including his favorite framed restaurant reviews and awards that covered the walls.

But he's grateful no one was hurt.

“It’s an unfortunate incident. But you know, sometimes we get trials and we just have to live on,” Allred said.

Investigators say the huge number of witnesses along with cell phone videos and photos allowed them to pinpoint the fire's starting point and cause quickly.

It first flared up on a rooftop patio used as a cigarette smoker's lounge.

The flames, smoke and fire pattern all offered further proof of just what allowed the extensive damage to occur.

“It was caused by smoking then the wind and just the location of where they were trying to extinguish the cigarettes. All that worked together to cause the flames to spread up the back side of the building and then into the area beneath the roof,” said John Ham, spokesman for the ATF Kansas City field division.

The building was officially deemed dangerous by city inspectors late Wednesday and is now surrounded by security fencing. Demolition is expected to start very soon.

The owner of “Embrace Your Humanity,” which had offices in the building, informed Facebook followers it has already secured a new office space.

The owner of another business, Carl Puritz Insurance, said he was already in the process of moving out of the building when the fire happened.

The building’s owner is assisting other tenants in finding new offices.