Despite damage to 25 homes, OPFD chief calls fire suppression efforts ‘a win’

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Investigators say a welder doing hot work near wood materials is to blame for the massive blaze at Overland Park’s CityPlace Apartments on Monday.

Investigators say surveillance pictures like the ones obtained by FOX 4 helped them determine the cause of the CityPlace apartment fire. Forty arson investigators also interviewed dozens of witnesses Tuesday. Many of those witnesses captured incredible pictures and video from their backyards as the apartment building under construction became a raging inferno.

Bethany McQuinn got a text from her husband, who was working on machinery at the construction site right behind her home.

“I looked out and that whole thing was up in flames and then it just kept going,” she said.

“I stood there right by those trees and just watched it because this one was burning and the one in front of it you could just see the flames coming up over it. It was just crazy,” Ben Gwinnett said.

Remarkably, despite being approximately 100 feet from the building leveled by the fire, Gwinnett’s home wasn’t damaged. The three next to him were destroyed as was the one across the street.

“We got lucky but not everybody did,” Gwinnett said.

“We understand there are 25 folks who paid a personal price and are displaced. We are trying to get them back on their feet as soon as possible. But mitigating this, we are looking at this as a win,” Overland Park Fire Chief Bryan Dehner said.

A neighbor who found out about the fire from his Ring doorbell camera says he’s relieved to find out it wasn’t the work of an arsonist. Now he says the whole neighborhood will be watching closely, assuming the developer Block Multifamily Group decides to rebuild.

“I think they’ll be very extra careful this time, I think that will be definitely on their mind," Matt Bell said.

General contractor for the project, Titan Built LLC, said in a statement:

“We will be working in lockstep with the Fire Department and other local authorities to get answers and continue gathering information, all toward the goal of establishing even more stringent protocols for our company and subcontractors going forward, exceeding federal guidelines to which we have always adhered.”

Block Multifamily Group hasn't commented yet on future plans for the two apartment buildings that were destroyed. So far they say they’ve been concentrating on serving their residents who had just moved into another building and helping out homeowners with their immediate needs.