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Community brightens holidays for Olathe house fire victims

Posted at 7:43 PM, Dec 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-26 20:43:57-05

OLATHE, Kan. — Community members have come together to make the holidays a little brighter for a family who lost everything in a devastating house fire Thanksgiving morning.

Around 3:30 a.m., crews were called to the home near the corner of Montclaire and Sheridan streets in Olathe.

Richard John said he and his wife, Pansy, were sleeping when their son woke them up and said a fire had started in the basement.

The fire quickly spread from the basement to the roof, engulfing the home in flames.

John said he didn't have time to grab any of his things.

"The smoke was just so thick that I had no choice but to just go out," John said.

Harry Mullins, a neighbor, said it was a sight he will never forget.

"I looked out from my front porch and saw a blazing fire already coming through the roof," he said.

Mullins said it was heart-wrenching to watch his neighbors lose everything, but people from all over the area have stepped up to help.

Mullins set up a Facebook group called "Helping Our Neighbors in Olathe." He said he's been overwhelmed with donations for the family.

"It's warming to know that the community cares like this, especially during the holiday season you know the worst time for a tragedy like this to happen," Mullins said.

Since the fire, people have sent the Johns family money, gift cards and Christmas gifts for their grandchildren, replacing the presents that were lost in the fire.

They also recently received two brand new TVs, gestures John said mean the world to him and his family

"They've gone above and beyond," he said. "I mean, wow."

John said his neighbors have been helping them through the difficult time since the night of the fire when they brought him and his wife blankets and shoes to put on.

For now, the family is taking things one step at a time. They signed a lease on a temporary home two weeks ago and have plans to re-build in the same spot.

They said they couldn't be more thankful for the people helping them out.

There is a GoFundMe page for those wanting to help the Johns.