KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The investigation into what caused the fire at Independence Ave., and Prospect that killed two firefighters Monday night ramped up on Wednesday.
Investigators with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms National Response Team were on the scene with their expertise, in order to allow fire department investigators the time to mourn.
The full ATF National Response Team is made up of 25 people from all over the United States, each experts in one aspect of fire investigation. They spent a lot of time and attention on the east side of the scene where the building collapsed, killing Larry Leggio and John Mesh. Fire investigators are not only trying to find out where the fire started and what caused it, but also trying to determine why the wall collapsed, hoping they can avoid the same sort of tragedy from happening again.
Cadaver dogs were also brought into the fire rubble on Wednesday. Although everyone who worked and lived in the building has been accounted for, investigators say some of the area's homeless were known to 'squat' in the basement and first floor. The dogs were brought in to make sure no bodies are under the debris.
Chris Vanvleet, retired special agent with the ATF says during his career he worked 120 of these special response team operations. He says although this looks like a mess right now, he says he was involved in investigations where they had less to work with and have been able to piece things together.
"It can get dicey sometime depending upon the amount of collapse, the amount of damage, the amount of damage that happened after the collapse, so there are a lot of variables in there but it is possible," Vanvleet said. Sometimes it can be harder than others. We just hope and pray that we can figure out what happened in this one."
Vanvleet says in his experience an investigation like this could take up to a week to complete. Cadaver dogs are expected to be back on Thursday. They are also trained to sniff-out accelerants, trying to determine if the fire could have been intentionally set.