KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The investigation continues to determine what sparked a house fire that killed two people the day before Thanksgiving.
The towering flames lit the corner of 42nd and Locust before dawn, alerting neighbors including Kaitlynn Gleeson.
“The doors and the windows and just that whole backend was just flames,” Gleeson told 41 Action News.
Gleeson, who lives across the street, called 911 as another neighbor ran up to the burning house.
“He was banging on the front door yelling, ‘Is anybody home? Somebody wake up, is anyone home,’” Gleeson said.
Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames, but two people didn’t make it out of the inferno.
— Richard Sharp (@RichardKSHB) November 22, 2017
“My heart is really broken for the lives lost and the families that are now affected,” Gleeson said.
Neighbors told 41 Action News the Southmoreland house belongs to a man who has lived there for a decade. He devotes his time to helping those dealing with substance abuse.
“Often times he would post around the neighborhood, social media to have people reach out to him if they were struggling so he’s been a good neighbor,” said Laura Burkhalter, president of the Southmoreland neighborhood association.
It’s unclear if the people who lost their lives are family members or friends of his.
“This neighborhood is trying to find a way to help him,” Burkhalter said.
KCFD said there weren’t any working smoke detectors in this house, making this a grim reminder to check yours.
“I had residents say, ‘I checked mine and they weren’t working,’ and ‘I thought they were,’ so even though you usually check those when the time changes a lot of people get lazy about that, but it’s a terrible reminder to do that,” Burkhalter said.
Free smoke detectors are available to KCMO residents at all KCFD fire stations.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the homeowner.