- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Firefighters were investigating the cause of a fire Tuesday that spread from a suburban Kansas City apartment complex that was under construction to nearly two dozen homes.

Overland Park, Kansas, Fire Department spokesman Jason Rhodes said foul play is not suspected of causing the blaze Monday that leveled one large, four-story apartment building and heavily damaging a second at the multimillion-dollar CityPlace development. About 22 nearby homes also were damaged, about a third of them significantly, from the intense heat and the burning debris that rained down, Rhodes said.

More than 100 firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control late Monday evening, and a small contingent continued to monitor hot spots Tuesday. Rhodes said three firefighters were treated for minor injuries, but added that it was a “huge blessing” that none of the injuries were serious.

No damage estimate was immediately available, but Rhodes said the total would be in the millions. “It was unprecedented in our area,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes said the 40-person investigation taskforce will have the benefit of talking to construction crews who were working when the fire started in a building that was framed but had no stucco exterior. It then spread to a building that was further along in the construction process. The complex contained at least two other s that were under construction and another that was occupied.

Rhodes said a preliminary cause could be available in the coming week “if the interviews yield answers.”

John Ham, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, whose agents are assisting with the investigation, said he had talked to people who had fought fires for 30 or 40 years and “haven’t seen anything like this.” He added: “I think unfortunately it was the perfect storm.”

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