Independence couple loses sentimental items in house explosion, fire - KCTV5


Independence couple loses sentimental items in house explosion, fire

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Firefighters battled fierce flames on a neighborhood street after an explosion inside someone's home.

Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but the home was completely destroyed, including things of great sentimental value.

It all started with an explosion about 7:20 a.m. Wednesday near East 35th Street and South Lee's Summit Road just west of Highway 291. Neighbors say they heard a big boom. Moments later, the garage on the home was blown out. Smoke and flames followed shortly after.

It took nearly two dozen firefighters to quell the blaze.

Officials say a couple lives in the home. A woman was inside at the time but was able to get out and call 911.

Inside were cherished mementos of their teenaged son, who died five years ago.

Neighbor Tonya Gentry rushed outside when she heard the commotion.

"I was just scared for those people that saw those cars in their driveway and I thought, 'Oh my gosh.' And she came out, and I thought, 'Oh my God, oh my God!' I'm just glad she got out safely Within minutes, the place was engulfed in flames. It happened so fast," she said.

Steve Beckerle ran in the back door and made it as far as the stairs before he had to turn back.

When the neighbor felt his own house shake and saw the sliding glass door blown 10 feet into the yard, he feared the worst.

“The flames were already half way over the ceiling,” he said. “The fact that she was able to walk out, it was a miracle.”

He grabbed the couple's dog, Sophie, from the yard, then hollered that the dog was safe and the house was going fast. The woman made it out just in time.

“And then in just two or three minutes the whole house was just engulfed in flames. It happened so fast,” Gentry said.

Just like that the house the couple had called home for 30 years was gone. They raised two children there. They have insurance, but there are some things that can't be replaced. Among the vehicles destroyed was a truck that belonged to their son, a teenager who died five years ago.

“They were a close family and they were a good family,” Beckerle said.

Beckerle is saddened too, but he is trying to think of the good.

“I’m thankful for the memories that they’ll still have in their mind. And I’m thankful that they’re still alive and can still remember things,” he said.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire. The homeowner said the fire department thinks a gas leak was to blame for the explosion. He's a union millwright and his "local" plans to help get the couple back on their feet.

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