Kansas City firefighters summoned heavy equipment Monday to a fire-gutted home in which a trapped woman died Sunday night.
They used it to peel back the south side of the house, which was too unsafe to enter after a blaze that seriously injured a fire captain and destroyed most of the upscale 8,000-square-foot home. Floors collapsed onto one another, and much of the roof burned way.
Though a homeowner escaped safely, her grown daughter was trapped in the home in the 500 block of West 123rd Terrace.
Fire Capt. Charlie Cashen raced in to search for Susan Herrera, 31, but soon found himself trapped by quickly spreading flames. He sought refuge in a bathroom and put out a distress call before deciding to charge through flames in an effort to escape, Battalion Chief James Garrett said Monday.
“I heard the mayday myself,” Garrett said. “You could hear the anguish in his voice.”
Cashen nearly made it to the home’s front door before collapsing, Garrett said. Other firefighters rescued him. He is being treated at the University of Kansas Hospital for second-degree burns on his arms and back.
Herrera was staying briefly with her parents, Rick and Sue Herrera, in the home overlooking Blue Hills Golf Course. She had planned to move to an apartment Monday, a relative said.
Her father was not home when the fire started. Her mother got out safely and called for her daughter to follow, but there was too much smoke, said Al Herrera, a cousin of Susan’s father.
Susan Herrera may have gotten out briefly before going back inside, Garrett said. It was unclear why she would have returned, he said. Two family dogs also died in the blaze.
Al Herrera described Susan Herrera as a bubbly, beautiful woman who smiled for everyone. “We are going to miss her,” he said.
A graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Susan Herrera worked for her father in the mortgage business, Al Herrera said.
The family is unsure how the fire started, he said.