The Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD) extinguished a fire at the Gabriel Apartment building at 531 Gladstone Boulevard on Monday morning.

A passerby flagged down a KCFD crew that was returning to the station from a car wreck, which saved lives, Assistant Fire Chief Jimmy Walker said.

“Upon our crew’s first arrival we had heavy fire showing to the second floor with extension to the third floor,” Walker said. “We had several people who met us in the yard of the apartment building. They had obvious smoke inhalation injuries, at which time we had a man hanging out the window on the third floor.”

KCFD made one rescue by ladder off the third floor. Four residents were transported to area hospitals for treatment for smoke inhalation. Walker said none of the injuries appear to be life threatening at this time.

Additional crews arrived on the scene quickly, advanced four hand lines up to the second floor of the apartment building, and began working to extinguish the fire.

“Our crews did an exceptional job and they made a quick fire attack and also throwing a ladder and being able to rescue the occupant,” Walker said.

The fire started on the second floor and quickly engulfed the third floor. While the flames were contained to the right side of the building, there was smoke throughout the structure.

“We did pull out a couple of pets, a dog and a cat, they’re okay,” Walker said.

Only four units in the building were occupied by renters. Residents, who preferred to remain anonymous, said squatters have been living in the hallways and unoccupied units. The fire started in an occupied unit.

The building is uninhabitable, so the department has made contact with the American Red Cross, which will come in to assist the families that live there and find them a place to stay for the night.

KCFD’s Community Paramedic Program frequently goes out and makes contact with people experiencing homelessness to try to help them find resources.

“If we can find those folks, then we will steer them in the right direction,” Walker said.

Walker said the department sent a standard apartment response, and that even though the department is understaffed, they have been able to maintain that response.

Residents of neighboring buildings exited their buildings, but the fire did not spread to other structures.

Exposures are always a concern anywhere in the city, especially in the Northeast area where buildings are well over 100 years old and close together, Walker said.

“We always have to be aware when we’re dealing with a situation that’s this close together to try to make sure we don’t have exposure problems,” Walker said. “If we do have exposure problems, we’ll address that immediately. So just being aware, being cognizant, it doesn’t take much to spread from building to building, but if that would be the case, we would call in additional alarms and we would address that exposure as well. As old as these buildings are, they’re tinderboxes. Doesn’t take much for fire to really get going.”

Fire investigators are on the scene, and no cause has been determined as of Monday morning.

“We are short staffed right now, our crews are working a lot of extra shifts, and kudos to our folks,” Walker said. “Crews did a phenomenal job getting it out there and that’s why we train like we do. Hard work, training, just doesn’t stop. Couldn’t be more proud of our companies we’re seeing today, handling that situation like calm professionals.”

During the investigation, utilities will be shut off and the building will be secured, Walker said. The building is owned by Colorado-based Gb42 LLC and has had property violations under investigation as recently as Nov. 16, 2022.