Federal agencies are investigating a fire overnight at the U.S. Courthouse at 5th and State in Kansas City, Kansas.
A Kansas City, Kansas, police officer spotted smoke coming from the building while driving by on rounds about 8:44 p.m. Tuesday, according to KCK fire officials. The smoke was coming from the south side of the building from an exterior light fixture, along with light smoke visible inside the vestibule.
A general alarm was dispatched at 8:47 p.m., and the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department arrived about 8:50 p.m., with the first companies reporting light smoke coming from the roof of the south side, over the vestibule entrance, according to a spokesman.
Fire crews had to force their way into the building and deploy large search teams to determine the origin and extent of the fire, the spokesman stated. There were no visible flames at that time.
Crews discovered significant smoke conditions on the second and third floors of the south side of the building, the spokesman stated. Search teams forced open locked corridors and offices on the second and third floors to try to determine the source of the smoke and fire, the spokesman stated.
The source of the smoke was determined to be a fire in a mechanical void space that is about 2 to 3 feet tall and runs between the second and third floors, according to the KCK fire marshal.
Access was gained to the area by cutting through the outside of the building’s façade with powered forcible entry tools, the spokesman stated.
At 11:24 p.m., the incident was declared under control and the fire was out, according to the spokesman.
While search teams looked for the source of the fire, they had to use about 55 self-contained breathing apparatus, the spokesman stated.
Firefighters spent time trying to ventilate toxic smoke from the south section of the building, according to the spokesman, which was difficult because windows were not designed to be opened.
At 1:03 a.m. Jan. 20, all Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department, state and federal agencies cleared the scene, and no injuries have been reported, according to the spokesman.
Damage was limited to the south section of the building, and most of the damage was smoke damage, with some water damage, according to the spokesman. The exterior of the building was damaged from crews gaining access to the fire location.
The spokesman stated the damage to the mechanical void space is unknown at this time, as it had not been accessed by investigators yet.
Among the agencies investigating the fire are the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department and the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, according to Deputy Fire Chief John Droppelmann, fire marshal.