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Second Raytown family member dies of fire-related injuries

This was the scene Monday after a fatal fire Sunday at the Somerset Village Apartments, 6000 Raytown Road in Raytown.
This was the scene Monday after a fatal fire Sunday at the Somerset Village Apartments, 6000 Raytown Road in Raytown. skeyser@kcstar.com

A grandmother rescued Sunday from a burning Raytown apartment has died from her injuries.

Cherri Roberts, 59, died Monday night, according to the Raytown Fire Department. One of her grandsons, 4-year-old Jeremiah, died Sunday from injuries suffered in the fire that destroyed the three-story building at 9811 E. 60th St.

Roberts had been in critical condition at a hospital since being rescued early Sunday.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time,” the fire department said in a Tuesday morning statement.

An 18-month-old grandson, Ja’Bin, remained in critical condition Tuesday afternoon at Children’s Mercy Hospital, said Raytown Deputy Fire Chief Mike Hunley. Another grandson, 6-year-old Jacob, escaped the fire.

Cherri Roberts had suffered serious burns, according to Grady Lauderdale, an uncle of the three boys.

“She was a beautiful, loving woman who was a big help to the family,” Lauderdale said.

“She helped baby-sit, she cooked for them, and she played and watched TV with them,” he said. “Now God is calling her home.”

Sitting In the lobby of Children's Mercy Hospital, Grady Lauderdale explained how a safety video may have helped save his nephew during a fire at Somerset Village Apartments (Feb. 8, 2015 -- video by Shane Keyser|skeyser@kcstar.com).

Fire crews from Raytown and Kansas City battled the fire, which was reported at 2:20 a.m. Sunday.

Members of a Raytown fire crew briefly were trapped in the building after their hose burned in two. Those firefighters rescued the Roberts family, breaking out a window and handing out the 18-month-old boy to a firefighter who had scaled a ladder to reach them.

Other fire crews then helped the trapped crew members and other apartment residents escape.

To suggest the dangerous conditions faced by the first Raytown firefighters to enter the building, Hunley on Tuesday displayed two scorched and soot-covered helmets.

Some firefighters take pride in owning such fatigued helmets, Hunley said.

“But they usually acquire this appearance over the course of years of firefighting, not a single incident,” Hunley said.

“When I saw those, I was pretty impressed with what they went through.”

One Raytown firefighter suffered minor burns on his ears, Hunley said.

About 20 members of the National Response Team of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began investigating the fire scene on Tuesday, said John Ham, ATF spokesman.

Members conducted about 20 interviews with displaced apartment building residents, with their neighbors and with firefighters who responded to the blaze. They learned of one resident, a college student, who repeatedly dashed through the building, knocking on the doors of neighbors as the flames and smoke spread.

“She’s an absolute hero,” Ham said. “In every tragedy there are stories like that that come out.”

ATF team members are not assuming foul play in the fire, Ham said.

“That has no bearing on whether we bring in the National Response Team or not,” he said.

Hunley said he requested the ATF team.

“We don’t have the expertise or resources to do an investigation of this scale,” he said.

“The other thing is, when you have fatalities in a fire, you want to make sure you do everything right, and we know these people can do everything right.”

“That’s why they are here.”

Apartment fire leaves three injured and dozens homeless.

Brian Burnes: 816-234-4120, @BPBthree

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