KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — A Thursday morning fire at a homeless encampment under the interstate killed one person and halted all westbound I-70 traffic into Kansas City.
Police and firefighters were called out around 6 a.m. to a fire at Interstate 70 and Benton Boulevard. A homeless encampment under the interstate there caught fire and killed one person. No other injuries have been reported.
The fire burned so hot that the Missouri Department of Transportation had to be called out to check the structural integrity of the bridge. Until MoDOT gives its approval, all westbound I-70 traffic into the city is being diverted onto the 18th Street exit just south of the scene.
In the meantime, traffic is backed up for miles, and authorities are urging anyone who usually uses I-70 to come into Kansas City to find an alternative route.
No cause of the fire has yet been given. The homeless person who died is believed to be an adult, and no foul play is immediately suspected, police said.
An update and recommended detour from MoDOT:
“Motorists are advised that westbound Interstate 70 near 18th St. will remain closed until further notice due to an early morning fire underneath the bridge. Missouri Department of Transportation staff are inspecting the bridge to determine the damage and potential needed repairs.
Westbound I-70 motorists traveling out of Missouri should exit I-70 at the Interstate 435 interchange at mile marker 8 to get around the closure. All lanes of eastbound I-70 remain open. For local traffic only, westbound I-70 travelers can continue as far as the 18th street exit to get to area neighborhoods.”