By Mike Frizzell
Operation 100 News – March 24, 2017
Shawnee Fire Investigators say careless smoking sparked a house fire near 50th Street and Millridge Street.
Firefighters and police were dispatched to the home in the 21700 block of West 50th Street about 3:30 Friday morning.
Shawnee Fire Marshal Corey Sands says, "the homeowners were awoken, thought it was hailing outside, went outside and saw the fire on the outside of the house."
The family told investigators that the smoke alarms did not sound until the fire had broken through the windows.
Two adults and two children were able to escape the house just after the fire began breaking through the rear windows and spreading to the inside of the home.
Firefighters arrived to report flames visible on the rear of the house. Additional fire crews were called in from Lenexa and Olathe as a precaution, due to gusty winds and blowing embers. No other homes were damaged.
Neighbor Todd Lehr says the sounds of police officers knocking on his door woke him.
"We opened the garage door and it was just embers and smoke," Lehr said. "The part that was the scariest was the embers, they were all the way across our house and going into the lot behind us."
After the fire was extinguished a Shawnee Firefighter walked back to his truck and came back to the family with a stuffed animal for the little girl who had just lost her house.
The Red Cross arrived on scene and began assisting the family before firefighters had fully extinguished the fire.
"We're lucky there were no injuries to them or to any of our fire crews," Sands said.
Firefighters worked for about 90 minutes to bring the fire under control.
Sands says damage to the home is estimated at $500,000.