OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Two Overland Park, Kansas police officers were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation after helping with evacuations at an apartment fire late Friday morning.

They didn’t think anything about it. They kicked in the door, they banged the door and the door was locked, Officer John Lacy said, with Overland Park Police. “So they just kicked in the door and they went to see if anyone was inside the apartment. So I commend those officers for doing that. I know we are not firefighters but they were fire on the scene so they acted.”

Just before 11 a.m., fire crews from Overland Park, Olathe and Leawood responded to the fire at the Casa De Fuentes Apartments located off W. 116th Terrace and Melrose Street.

First crews on scene reported smoke showing from a ground floor apartment in a two-story apartment building with police helping with evacuations.

Firefighters were unable to access the apartment where the fire was located because of excessive contents piled in front of the doors and windows, according to the Overland Park Fire Department.

It took crews almost an hour to bring the fire under control because of having to remove the piles of stuff to make access and locate the fire.

Fire crews work to bring a fire under control Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, at the Casa De Fuentes Apartments in Overland Park, Kansas. (Photo Courtesy: Overland Park Fire Department)

Firefighters spent about another half-hour digging through the apartment contents, because the resident had not been located and was feared inside. Overland Park Police eventually located the resident off site, who were safe.

“What they encountered was very extreme hoarding conditions,” Jason Rhodes, with Overland Park Fire Department, said. “Literally had a significant struggle to actually try to access the fire itself.”

Residents from eight apartments are currently displaced. The apartment complex management is working to help them with a place to stay.

Overland Park Fire is asking anyone who has or knows someone who may have hoarding disorder to seek help.

“The conditions our crews faced today were dangerous for the resident and for first responders,” the fire department said. “You’ve got increased fire load with all the debris. It’s more fuel but then it creates more hazards for firefighters and residents as well.”

Investigators believe an unattended, electric tea kettle was the cause of the fire. The resident of the apartment where the fire started reported using an electric tea kettle Friday morning before leaving the apartment and believes she accidentally left it on.

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