The Overland Park Fire Department says an unattended electric tea kettle was the likely cause of an apartment fire Friday morning that left two police officers hospitalized and multiple residents temporarily displaced.
Firefighters from Overland Park, Leawood and Olathe were called to the Casa De Fuentes Apartments, 11674 Melrose Street, at 10:56 a.m.
That’s off U.S. Highway 69, near 119th Street and Switzer Road.
Overland Park Fire Department Media Manager Jason Rhodes says the first firefighters on the scene reported smoke visible from a ground floor apartment of the two-story apartment building.
At that time, police officers were also helping residents out of the building, according to Rhodes.
Rhodes confirms that Johnson County Med-Act transported two Overland Park police officers to an area hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. Both officers were assisting with evacuations at the apartment complex.
They were both later listed as stable at the hospital.
Complicating fire crews’ response, Rhodes said, was the amount of hoarded item inside the apartment where the fire originated.
“Firefighters were unable to access the apartment where the fire was located because of excessive contents piled in front of the doors and windows,” Rhodes said in a news release. “It took crews almost an hour to bring the fire under control because they had to remove piles of contents to make access to the unit and locate the fire.”
Rhodes says firefighters spent about a half-hour digging through the apartment’s contents, searching for the resident who was possibly still inside.
“Overland Park police eventually located the resident off-site, safe and sound,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes said the resident reported using the electric tea kettle earlier in the morning before leaving the apartment and “believes she accidentally left it on.”
The fire displaced residents from eight apartments. All are being assisted by apartment complex management with temporary housing.
“Overland Park Fire encourages anyone who has or knows someone who may have a hoarding disorder to seek assistance,” Rhodes said in the release. “The conditions our crews faced today were dangerous for the residents and for first responders.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and a damage estimate has not been released.