Furniture store on Southwest Boulevard still smoldering hours after massive blaze

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A local furniture store and warehouse that caught fire Tuesday afternoon is still smoldering.

Black smoke and large flames could be seen pouring out of the furniture store along Southwest Boulevard.

As of Wednesday morning, firefighters were still at Friday's Only Furniture store monitoring the fire and spraying water to cut down on the smoke. They also set up a large collapse zone around the building.

Crews are concerned about the physical structure of the building because the older building has a lot of damage. FOX 4's Nicole DiAntonio, who was on the scene Wednesday, said she's seen bricks falling off the building.

Nearly 100 firefighters responded to the three-alarm fire along Southwest Boulevard around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Because of the structural concern, firefighters chose not enter the building.

According to the building owner,  it was full of furniture at the time the fire ignited.

“Oh it’s really hard because I don’t have any insurance on it," said Bob Ehinger of Ehinger Properties. "I self-insured it... so it’s just something you have to live with.”

The fire quickly became a three-alarm fire.

The enormous blaze was a sight that will leave a lasting impact for many, but also sparked unpleasant memories for others.

"It`s coming out the top and I was just immediately hoping there was no one in there," Michael Furhman of Schutte Lumber said.

Furhman owns neighboring Schutte Lumber, and remembered back in 2003 when it was his company going up in flames. He now hopes he`ll be able to lend a helping hand to the folks at Friday's Only.  The building was actually in the middle of repair work, after weekend storms tore off part of the roof, and blew down the sprinkler system.

"We ended up today doing the hand demolition. No cutting torches, no power tools, and were going to start framing in tomorrow morning. Framing crews were going to be there at seven," Ehinger said.

Firefighters chose to fight the fire at Friday's Only Furniture from the outside because there were concerns the building was unsafe to enter.

The blaze burned so hot that people across the street at Ponak's Mexican Kitchen said they could feel it.

"The heat off of the patio was really surprising, standing in the shade side and feeling like you`re in a sauna over 110 degrees just coming off that building from as far away as it was," general manager John Greer said.

Ponak's and other neighboring business had to evacuate, and hope to reopen for business Wednesday. They were able to provide firefighters with plenty of ice.

As of Wednesday morning, Friday's Only Furniture Store looked like a total loss, although the actual dollar amount of damage has not yet been released.

The good news is the fire did not spread and the fire chief tweeted out overnight there were no major injuries. He did say one firefighter was transported to the hospital as a precaution, but the firefighter was fine and is already back to work.

Southwest Boulevard reopened to traffic just before 7 a.m.

Kansas City, Mo. Fire Chief Paul Berardi said it will take at least 72 hours before they can determine a cause.

"The next thing we are going to do, we will have dangerous buildings come down and do an inspection to see if the building is safe. We highly doubt it's going to be accessible to us," Berardi said while adding that what's left is basically a shell of a building.

Berardi said they will try to get some aerial shots for the investigators from above using the aerial platforms. Then they will continue their investigation with interviews and check the utilities.

"Stay away from the area other than coming down and visiting to a restaurant or two on the boulevard," Berardi said. "We have kept people a safe distance away, we are not in danger. If it does collapse, we are far enough, we are not in any danger there."

A massive blaze engulfed a furniture store along Southwest Boulevard Tuesday, June 20.

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