Investigators are calling a deadly fire that swept through a northeast Kansas City, Kan., home and killed three people early Tuesday suspicious.
Morris Letcher, a spokesman for the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department, said firefighters arrived at a house in the 800 block of Troup Avenue shortly after 3:20 a.m. and reported that the house was engulfed in heavy fire.
While crews attacked the fire, other firefighters searched the single-story, wood frame house and found two bodies.
The discovery led to an “extensive fire investigation,” Kansas City, Kan., Fire Chief John Paul Jones said via Twitter.
Hours after police confirmed that a third body had been found in the home, close to 50 family members and friends of 53-year-old Gwinn Green gathered near the scene for a candlelight prayer vigil.
Police did not identify the victims but family members believe one of them was Green.
Green’s sister, Patricia, said Green was one of 10 siblings. Patricia Green described her sister as funny, vibrant and full of life.
“She was the life of the party,” Patricia Green said.
Gwinn Green’s son, Aderrius Phillips, spoke briefly at the vigil. He described his mother in much the same light as Patrica Green.
“I can’t ever think of a time of her being mad or sad,” Phillips said.
Philips asked those in attendance to pray for the family of the other victims as well.
Police spokesman Zachary Blair said that the deaths were considered suspicious but had not been ruled homicides. However, Kansas City, Kan., Police Chief Terry Zeigler said via Twitter that the “house fire at 8th & Troup appears to be homicide scene with multiple victims. Details are sketchy at this point.”
Fire investigators remained at the house throughout the day, sifting through debris in search of the cause of the fire. Dogs were brought in to sniff for evidence.
Another distraught relative who heard about the fire left work and rushed to the home that sits on the southwest corner of Troup Avenue and North Mill Street, just north of Parallel Parkway.
“I do know that my nephew was staying here sometimes with his uncle,” said Alesia Williams, who said she helped raised him. “We haven’t heard from them this morning.”
She pleaded that if anyone had heard from them Tuesday morning to call family or police and let them know.
“I don’t know if it’s him, but who else could it be?” she said. “If it’s not him, I don’t know where he is.”
Williams said she had helped raise her nephew who is now in his 30s. She believed his uncle was in his 50s.
“I hope it’s not him,” Williams said. “I hope it’s going to be alright. I just hope it’s going to be alright.”
Prior to police announcing that a homicide investigation was underway, Williams said that she hoped that no one took her nephew’s life.
She said the violence needs to stop and people need to speak up if they knew what happened.
“This would be very devastating to the family,” she said. “Enough is enough. C’mon people, wake up. Wake up and stop all this.”