Ammo, fireworks, clutter inside burning O.P. home endangers firefighters

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan.-- A fire at an Overland Park home, crammed full of an assortment of items and impossible to navigate, posed serious problems for firefighters early Tuesday morning.

Just before 2:00 a.m., crews from Overland Park Fire were called to a house in the 8800 block of Westbrooke Drive.

There was a fire in the basement and the bedroom of the single-story home. Firefighters say there was ammunition and fireworks in the home that began to discharge. They knocked down an outside wall and got to the bedroom fire that way.

"In the front bedroom, along with a lot of clutter, there were also some fireworks and some firearms or some ammunition and the fire that got into that room began to set some of that off," said Jason Rhodes with the Overland Park Fire Department. "So, it certainly gave us a reason for pause, so we had to kind of pull back, regroup, and figure out what that was and get things contained and then we were able to go back in and isolate that and take care of it."

"We can actually see where the fire traveled. We can't ensure that it won't rekindle," said Julie Harper, Overland Park Battalion Chief. "We basically had to remove the entire room of origin, which was stacked pretty full."

The smell of smoke awakened the residents, and all four got out of the house safely. The fire department said it's still investigating how the fire started and investigators believe the home did not have working smoke alarms.

Rhodes said the family is fortunate they escaped without injury, but so are firefighters.

"Anytime we go into a home that's filled with clutter, if you got a hoarding situation, it presents a lot of problems for us," he said. "You don't have that mobility. You can't find fire quickly. You can't get in and out of areas quickly so it's very dangerous. These guys are really lucky. Everybody's really lucky that we didn't have any serious injuries or fatalities here."

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