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‘She was a wonderful lady’: 96-year-old grandmother who died in apparent Polo arson remembered

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 8:15 PM CDT|Updated: May. 11, 2022 at 7:32 AM CDT
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POLO, Mo. (KCTV) -- First responders confirmed a woman died in one of three house fires Tuesday morning in and around Polo, Missouri, that were “apparent arsons.”

Even Tuesday evening, smoke continued to rise from the ashes of what was Lorene Fickess’ home. She had moved into it in 1958 and raised seven children there.

In that home, she would continue to host Christmas with as many as 80 people. She had 18 grandkids, 39 great-grandkids, and seven great-great-grandkids.

“She never said a bad word about anyone at all,” her neighbor Judy said. “She was a dear friend and I hate this to happen.”

It was about 8:30 a.m. when neighbors called 911 and rushed to try to save her,

“There was no way anybody was going to go through that smoke or even survive that smoke,” her neighbor David said.

“It’s an old house and it just went up in flames so fast,” Judy said. “Nobody could do anything to save her. She was a wonderful lady.”

In the next two hours, two other homes within 3.5 miles would catch fire. The other two were vacant.

Lorene’s daughter told KCTV5 that her mom would have turned 97 in a month and a day. She made the best chicken and noodles, too.

Except for the youngest, who was born five days ago, she had held every one of her grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren.

Fickess’ husband died in 2013. She took great pride in being healthy enough to still take care of herself and live alone despite needing a walker.

She loved to watch the birds outside the house and loved to garden.

Her daughter said the family is devastated and heartbroken. However, they have many memories to hold onto.

That includes Mother’s Day two days ago, when all of her children were with her.

The sheriff said witnesses spotted the same vehicle near each of the three fires. It was a dark, 4-door, passenger car. Possibly a black Dodge Calibur.

Anyone with information has been asked to call the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office at (816) 586-2681.

The Missouri State Fire Marshal is assisting the Caldwell County Sheriff with the investigation.

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96-year-old grandmother dead following 3 ‘apparent arsons’ near Polo, Missouri