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Father dies while searching for children in Kansas City fire

Updated: 2013-05-07T14:34:25Z

By BRIAN BURNES and ROBERT A. CRONKLETON The Kansas City Star

Two cousins ran through the fire and smoke, trying to save two children as their Kansas City house burned Monday.

Phillip Mathis III found the two boys, ages 5 and 9, and led them to safety.

But smoke apparently overcame the boys’ 31-year-old father, Terence Mosby Jr., who died.

“My son tried to get back in and save them,” said Mosby’s mother, Teresa Mosby. “He didn’t know that Phillip had taken the two boys out the back window.”

Both men are heroes to their families and friends.

Mathis was being treated at a hospital Monday for smoke inhalation, Teresa Mosby said.

The fire also injured Brandi Mosby, the wife of Terence Jr. and the mother of the two boys, Teresa Mosby said. She was being treated in the intensive care unit of the University of Kansas Hospital burn center, she said. Brandi and Terence had been married for 12 years, she said.

The children escaped without injuries, Teresa Mosby said.

“The boys are with me and they are fine,” she said.

The blaze began about 5:30 a.m. in the one-story home near East 54th Street and Chestnut Avenue, east of Bruce R. Watkins Drive. Despite firefighters’ efforts, flames gutted the small home.

Neighbors continued to talk about the tragedy later Monday.

“The dad was a hero, too,” said Carl Fue, a longtime neighborhood resident who watched the incident unfold.

Terence Mosby Jr. grew up in the 3600 block of Norton Avenue, graduated from Northeast High School and performed as a rap artist, his mother said.

“He performed all over — in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Nashville and here in Kansas City,” Mosby said. “He was just an all-around guy; everybody loved my son.”

An uncle described Terence Jr. as a respectful young man.

“The thing I admired about him most was his religious beliefs,” said the uncle, Solomon Essex II. “He was a rap artist who rapped gospel. He had opportunities to go in the wrong direction with gangs and drugs, but he chose to stay close to God.”

Teresa Mosby attributed the fire to a space heater. She also disputed some media accounts that the home did not have smoke detectors.

Firefighters found Mosby dead inside the house, said Battalion Chief James Garrett, Kansas City Fire Department spokesman. When firefighters arrived, they found the house totally engulfed in flames and heavy smoke.

As with any fatal fire, the Kansas City Police Department’s bomb and arson unit was called to the scene to investigate.

“We are checking for evidence of working smoke detectors, but it’s possible they didn’t have any,” Garrett said.

The Fire Department gives free smoke detectors to those who need them. Interested people can call the department’s Fire Prevention Division at 816-784-9100.

To reach Robert A. Cronkleton, call 816-234-4261 or send email to bcronkleton@kcstar.com. To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to bburnes@kcstar.com.

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