A Kansas City man suffered serious injuries while helping a friend out of a burning home early Tuesday, a family member said.
Both he and his friend remained in critical condition later Tuesday.
Firefighters arrived at the home in the 4400 block of Elmwood Avenue about 2 a.m.
Lamar Wallace helped friend and roommate Gwendolyn Williams escape from the burning home, said Vashti Wallace, his niece.
“He was the one who got her out,” she said.
Vashti Wallace, who said she also lived at the Elmwood Avenue home but was not at the residence overnight, learned of the fire from an aunt who called her on her cellphone. Vashti Wallace came to the house early Tuesday morning and then went to Research Medical Center, where doctors told her that her uncle and Williams were in critical condition.
Later Tuesday morning, Vashti Wallace returned to the house with disposable gloves and, with two friends, began sifting through family documents and household items that had been thrown clear of the home by firefighters while battling the flames.
She had no information about what started the fire, she said. She hoped to contact American Red Cross regarding displacement services after losing all of her clothes in the fire.
Delores Johnson, a block captain with the Vineyard Neighborhood Association, said her son, who was watching television, saw what appeared to be a large fireball over the house’s roof sometime after 1:30 a.m. Fire department trucks arrived soon after.
John Ashley, who last month moved into the house just across the street with friend Otell Well, said both of the injured residents were friendly neighbors.
“They were very cool people,” said Ashley, who was not home at the time of the fire. “This is horrible, horrible.”
Battalion Chief James Garrett told reporters early Tuesday that firefighters had confronted an intense fire upon arrival.
A Kansas City police crime investigation team examined the home’s interior later Tuesday morning.