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House explodes in Kansas City; fire crews find victim in wreckage: KCFD

KCFD Deputy Chief Jimmy Walker describes house explosion

KCFD Deputy Chief Jimmy Walker said crews responded to a house explosion Wednesday at 15th Terrace and Fremont Avenue. Crews searched the wreckage after a person was reported to have been inside.
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KCFD Deputy Chief Jimmy Walker said crews responded to a house explosion Wednesday at 15th Terrace and Fremont Avenue. Crews searched the wreckage after a person was reported to have been inside.

One person was found dead after a house exploded, Wednesday afternoon in northeast Kansas City, according to the fire department.

Firefighters were called to East 15th Terrace and Fremont Avenue about 4:15 p.m. after neighbors reported hearing the explosion and seeing flames.

The house had already collapsed when crews arrived. Debris in the street and the reports of neighbors indicated that the house had exploded and then caught fire, said Deputy Chief Jimmy Walker said.

By 5:30 p.m., the fire was under control and crews were searching the wreckage. Neighbors had told firefighters that a person may have been inside the house when it collapsed.

Later in the night, Walker said crews found the body of an adult victim. The victim’s identity has not been released pending family notification.

Crews remained at the scene Wednesday night to continue searching, and the cause of the explosion is under investigation by the fire department with the help of the Kansas City Police Department’s Bomb and Arson Unit. Gas service to the house had been shut off since 2017, so fire officials did not think gas was a likely cause, Walker said.

It was unclear how many people lived at the home.

Walker said medical crews had on prior occasions observed up to five people at the house, but they had reports of only one person present at the time of the explosion.

Cecilia Ochoa, who lives next door, said her mother had just come back to the house on East 15th Terrace from QuikTrip when her neighbor’s home collapsed.

“She wasn’t even out of the car when the explosion happened. And then the fire came after the explosion,” Ochoa said. “My mom called us, ‘The neighbor’s house exploded. Come out here fast.’”

Ochoa said there was no major damage to her mother’s house, but they’ve found some debris, including a door and broken glass.

She said her neighbors mostly kept to themselves, but said it appeared at least more than one person was living there and that the home was being remodeled.

A witness, Michael Russell, said he was working nearby at a pawn shop when he went outside and saw black smoke. As he walked closer to investigate, he saw the fire.

“You could just feel it (the heat). The flames were just up in the air. It was just a crazy sight to see,” Russell said.

The witness said he didn’t know the person crews were searching for but said he recognized a scooter parked outside the burning home — the same type of scooter sold at the pawn shop.

“I wasn’t more or less scared,” Russell said of the fire. “It’s just sad.”

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Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.


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