Open burning of leaves in Merriam backyard is likely cause of house fire that leads to extensive damage

Photo via Overland Park Fire Department on Twitter.
Photo via Overland Park Fire Department on Twitter.

A man burning leaves in his backyard in Merriam told firefighters he saw the blaze spread to his deck, likely sparking the fire that caused extensive damage to his home.

The man called 911 shortly before 1 p.m. Monday to alert emergency responders to the situation in the 10100 block of W 65th Street. Fire crews from the Overland Park Fire Department and the Shawnee Fire Department arrived to find the back of the house engulfed in flames.

While the man alerted his wife as soon as he saw the fire spreading, allowing her and the couple’s three cats to escape safely, the damage likely leaves the home a total loss. Fire crews had to ask for assistance from KCP&L to de-energize power lines that were hindering their access to the heart of the conflagration. Overland Park Fire Department media manager Jason Rhodes said it took crews approximately 40 minutes to get the blaze under control. The open burning in the backyard is the most likely cause of the house fire, but investigators are still working to make an official determination of cause.

“Today’s fire is a stark reminder of the dangers of open burning, especially on a warm, windy day,” Rhodes said in a statement Sunday. “Please follow all regulations for burning and consider weather conditions before starting burns.”

Merriam is unique among northeast Johnson County cities for still allowing the legal burning of leaves. Shawnee, Lenexa and Olathe, however, allow leaf burning in their cities.