KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WDAF) — First responders in Kansas City, Kansas, are praising one of their own for rescuing tenants from a burning apartment building.
As many as 20 residents at the Rainbow Ridge Apartments lost their homes late Saturday night. No lives were lost in the three-story apartment building, which suffered significant damage.
Flames were shooting into the sky when Kansas City, Kansas, (KCK) Firefighters arrived around 11 p.m. KCK Fire officials believe a quick response made the difference, allowing their rescue crews to save five people from the burning building.
KCK Fire Captain Mark Millstead said his first responders were on the scene four minutes after they were called to action. Capt. Millstead also said a neighboring parking lot, by coincidence, was a site for recent training his crews participated in.
“There’s fire blowing off on the left side and people hanging off the balconies to the right,” Dylan Alexander, a KCK Firefighter, said.
Alexander is credited with helping five occupants, including a teenager, by climbing a hand ladder and using it to help others to safety. KCK Fire officials told FOX4 News they plan to nominate Alexander for a national firefighter of the year award, which is sponsored by the Veterans Administration.
“(I was) just explaining to them they needed to come over the balcony and get on this ladder. A lot of people freeze up at that time. Coaching them and telling them what they need to do helps people,” Alexander said.
Capt. Millstead said it was a terrifying scene, and, given the size of the fire, he was concerned there wouldn’t be enough time to rescue people. Capt. Millstead said once his crew parked their fire engine, they needed only two minutes to begin their ladder rescue plan.
“You’ve got people on all three balconies yelling ‘get me out, get me out. Help me. Help me,” Capt. Millstead said on Monday. “I think the credit should go to the guys underneath me because they did a damn good job.”
The American Red Cross is assisting tenants in need. Eunice Panama, a resident, said flames were everywhere when she looked out her window on Saturday night.
“With the holidays that are coming up and everything, I just feel so sorry for everyone that’s been displaced. My prayers go out to the mothers and children and everyone who lived here,” Panama said.
A manager at Rainbow Ridge Apartments said they’re working with tenants to provide them with new apartments as needed, and some may be permitted to break their leases at no expense.