Fire forces Roeland Park family from home Wednesday night, pops back up early Thursday

Firefighters doused flames that erupted from the roof after they vented it with axes and saws. Photo by Daniel Blom.
Firefighters doused flames that erupted from the roof after they vented it with axes and saws. Photo by Daniel M. Blom.

A fire that started in the garage of a Roeland Park home in the 5300 block of Birch Street forced its residents into the cold of Wednesday night and then reemerged early Thursday morning. Consolidated Fire District No. 2 crews were still on the scene as of 7:15 a.m.

Homeowner Deborah Williams said she first became aware that something was wrong when she heard a popping sound coming from the garage and went to investigate. When she opened the door from the house to the garage, she could see an orange glow and realized there was a fire. She also smelled a “plastic burning smell.” Because of the sounds from the garage, she believed the cause might have been electrical.

She lives in the house with her son and daughter. Her daughter wasn’t home at the time, but the son had a friend over for dinner. She told them both to get out of the house and called 911 on the way out. They held the door open for the dog and two cats. The dog and one cat came out of the house, but the location of the other cat was unknown while firefighters worked the fire. It was believed to still be inside.

Williams, who had a bad fall last week and seriously bruised her face, said she saw smoke coming out of the gutters when she got outside and later flames were coming out of the garage.

When fire crews arrived, the fire had engulfed the garage, which was totally consumed by the flames. After getting the garage fire under control, firefighters worked to isolate the blaze in the roof and attic. They used chain saws and axes to vent the roof near one of the dormers, where smoke indicated the fire was still burning.

Acting Battalion Chief Bruce Randall said the fire department first received a call on the fire just after 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, and spent three hours getting the blaze under control. But the fire reemerged at 2:40 a.m., sending crews back to the scene. A total of four fire units, an ambulance and two battalion chiefs responded to the calls.

Randall said the department had its investigation into the cause of the fires scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday. He believes the house will be a total loss.

Randall said the Williams family stayed with relatives last night.

(With reporting by Dan Blom).

Deborah Williams, center, said she heard a popping sound in the garage and noticed a plastic burning smell.
Deborah Williams, center, said she heard a popping sound in the garage and noticed a plastic burning smell.