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Faulty fireplace burns Lee's Summit house, family of eight displaced

Posted: 6:38 PM, Jan 08, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-08 19:38:12-05

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo.— A local family's efforts to stay warm turned dangerous over the weekend.

“I’m pretty sure my entire family would have died in here yesterday. I’m pretty sure of it,” Morris Wells, a homeowner said.
 
But because of Wells’ actions, they are focused on cleaning up a mess Monday instead of dealing with a tragedy.

Over the weekend, Wells lit the fireplace for the first time since he bought his house on the 1600 block of SW Fredrick Drive a year and a half ago.

On Sunday, Wells cut off the fireplace before heading to church. Shortly after he noticed an unusual haze in the air.

“The smoke that was coming out was like somebody put hot ice in the vents. It was that bad,” Wells told 41 Action News.

The quick-moving fire traveled through the walls from the first floor to the second floor, where Wells’ wife and seven children were sleeping.

He woke them up and dialed 911.

Using a thermal imaging camera, the Lee’s Summit Fire Department discovered flames inside the walls around the brick fireplace. 

“By the time anybody would’ve realized this house was on fire this whole side would’ve been engulfed in flames,” Wells said.

Investigators told Wells a flaw in the chimney’s flue caused the fire.

“A lot of damage but I’ll take this over me having to bury my kids or my wife,” Wells said.

This is the second time Wells, an Army veteran, has survived a fire. A space heater is to blame for the first.

In both cases, Wells' homeowner’s insurance has helped him. Wells wants this fire to be a reminder to other homeowners.

“Anybody else that has a furnace or chimney get it checked because you never know,” Wells said.