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KCFD: 1 killed in morning blaze near 56th and Hardesty

56th and Hardesty fatal fire.jfif
Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 18:33:33-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One man was killed in a large house fire in Kansas City, Missouri, on Friday morning.

The fire started in a home near East 56th Street and Hardesty Avenue shortly after 6:15 a.m. Police and firefighters shut down several blocks around the fully involved home, citing explosions going off in the residence.

Officials later said there were six explosions caused by oxygen tanks in the home catching fire.

KCFD Deputy Fire Chief Jimmy Walker confirmed one man was killed in the blaze.

According to officials, two people were home at the time of the fire. Another man got out safely and told first responders that his uncle was still inside the home.

Firefighters tried to get to the 61-year-old man, but the explosions prevented his rescue. The victim was on oxygen, Walker said.

Fire officials said the home had no working smoke detectors.

One neighbor in the area said he woke up to a loud noise, similar to a "boom."

Nathan Augustine Gusman said he knew the victim, who has not been identified by authorities.

"(I) went up there and then I said, oh my God, I can't believe it, and everything just dropped, everything fell," Gusman said. "I was just trying to pull myself together."

Gusman said he and the man talked often and had become friends.

"I'm going to miss his company, his friendship, his kindness and his wisdom," Gusman said.

Hardesty Avenue from East 56th Street to 63rd Street was blocked off for several hours while crews worked the blaze.

Fire officials said they had recovered the victim's body, and investigators were working to determine the cause of the fire. Walker said the cause might be difficult to determine because of damage caused by the fire and explosions.

KCFD said it wanted to remind homeowners that the department offers free smoke alarms and will come install them for residents. For anyone outside of KCMO, the American Red Cross also provides smoke detectors free of charge.