Rockhurst High School soccer coach Chris Lawson arrived home in the early evening Monday, propped open his car door and raced to console his oldest son, who was sitting on the curb.
The chaos swirled around them, as Lawson recalls, with helicopters, ambulances and fire trucks flocking toward their home.
A fire engulfed Lawson’s house in the Northland on Monday, and while two local fire departments battled the flames and smoke, it was too late to salvage the house, which officials deemed a total loss.
Lawson’s family of four was uninjured, including his 25-year-old son Melvin, who was inside at the time of the fire.
“I’m devastated and stunned but so grateful that my family is OK. That’s all that matters right now,” Lawson said in a phone interview Tuesday. “Without family and friends, none of the other stuff matters.”
Officials have not yet determined what started the fire, Lawson said, but they know it originated in a downstairs bedroom. Melvin said he came out of the shower and heard the fire alarms sounding in the home. He found the dog, and they escaped unharmed.
The family managed to save only a handful of items as the flames shot through the roof. Lawson said his wife found a pair of his state championship rings that had not been damaged. He has won six state titles with Rockhurst.
But many of the tangible memories — most notably pictures — were destroyed.
“We lost wedding pictures, young pictures of my kids, things given to us by friends and family — all the stuff that has sentimental value. That stuff hurts to lose,” Lawson said. “But we’ve been humbled by the outpouring of texts, calls and support from our community, and we’re so appreciative by everything the fire personnel tried to do.”
Lawson is temporarily living with his brother in Lee’s Summit. Friends have started a GoFund Me account, which has already surpassed its $10,000 goal in fewer than 24 hours.
“It’s amazing how quickly things can change,” Lawson said. “It makes you appreciate what you have that much more. I know I’ll go home and hug my family and tell them every day that I love them.”