LENEXA, Kan. — Lenexa firefighters said a Tuesday night fire was the largest they’ve had in some time with 22 apartments’ worth of people turned out on the street after flames overtook a building’s attic.
Investigators aren’t yet sure how the fire started at an apartment complex near Renner Boulevard and Interstate 435.
Fortunately, no tenants were injured; one firefighter went to the hospital but was quickly released.
While they’re all OK, some tenants said they don’t have high hopes for retrieving their possessions.
Cellphone video shows flames shooting out of the western side of the roof, spreading upward from the attic.
“It was very surreal, very surreal,” one tenant said Wednesday. “Watching the chimney fall was pretty wild and just hearing all the animals outside.”
“The cat was like under the bed, and we had to like lift the bed up to get her out and scramble to get out to the courtyard,” another tenant said.
“Half the building was gone, you know what I mean? It was completely burnt,” tenant Robert Cattaneo said.
“My electronics are probably completely washed,” Cattaneo added. “And then for me it’s more about the sentimental things. I have years upon years of things I’ve saved. Those are probably all done.”
Cattaneo said he spent the night at his mom’s place. Now, like the other tenants, he’s looking for a new place to live.
Fire crews said having this many people displaced is extremely uncommon in Lenexa.
“It’s been a long time, and unfortunately we were hoping it would go for a lot longer before this happened,” Lenexa Assistant Fire Chief Butch Diekemper said.
With smoke alarms still beeping inside Wednesday, city inspectors worked to assess the building and see if tenants might be able to salvage any items — like Cattaneo’s letters from loved ones who have died.
“So that really hits deep in the core, wish I could get those out. We’ll see. I hope so. We’ll see,” Cattaneo said.