Two-alarm apartment fire forces evacuation of 30 - KCTV5


Man found dead among debris inside fire-damaged apartment

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One person was killed in a two-alarm apartment building fire Monday night that left more than a dozen people without a home.

Thirty people were evacuated from the Cloverset Apartments, located at 10640 Washington, about 8:45 p.m. The fire was contained to one unit, but smoke spread throughout the building.

A detective said by the time the fire department got the call, there were flames visible through the third-floor roof, two stories above the victim's apartment on the first floor. The victim's identity has not been released yet.

Investigators are waiting for an autopsy to tell them if it was the smoke inhalation that killed the man or a medical event. Neighbor Jean Rademacher is hoping for the latter.

"I hope that he didn't have any pain or wasn't in agony or anything. Maybe it was a heart attack or something. That is why the fire happened. He couldn't watch whatever he was doing," Rademacher said. "It's just sad."

It wasn't until Tuesday, as exhaust fans cleared the smoke and water, that anyone realized the man, whose apartment door firefighters had to break open, had died.

"Everybody thought that he was not home, because they thought that he worked late and that he wasn't in," Rademacher said.

Firefighters also thought the man was not home at the time, but they found him after the fire was put out. He was under a pile of rubble in the kitchen.

From the outside of the apartment building, no one could even tell there was a fire.  Rademacher lives down the hall from the only visible signs of the fire that remain.

She didn't know anything was wrong Monday night until she got a frantic knock on her door.

"Somebody said, 'There's a fire. There's a fire. You smell the smoke?' And supposedly the hallway was all full of smoke. And I could smell the smoke," she said.

Her guide dog, Jagger, led her out safely.

A bomb and arson detective said the fire started in the kitchen and appeared to be accidental. He said neighbors told police the resident had health problems.

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