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Man killed in Cass County house fire

Firefighters search for a man who they believe was killed in a house fire Tuesday morning in rural Garden City.
Firefighters search for a man who they believe was killed in a house fire Tuesday morning in rural Garden City. Special to The Star

Dennis Shelton jumped out of his second-floor bedroom window Tuesday morning at his rural Garden City residence, fleeing a fire that killed his stepfather.

Shelton, 52, escaped unharmed, but his stepfather, Milton Huggins wasn’t able to get out.

Cadaver dogs were brought in to help search for remains.

Fire Chief Mark Lopez said the Garden City Fire Protection District was called at 7:15 a.m. on the report of a residential fire at 34309 E. 355th St.

Crews from Harrisonville, Central Cass, East Lynne and Creighton provided mutual aid as the two-story house burned for several hours.

“It was fully involved,” Lopez said.

Deputies from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the blaze, along with the Cass County Arson Task Force and the Missouri State Fire Marshal.

Lopez said a substantial portion of the man's body was removed from the scene at about 3:30 p.m. The victim was the owner of the residence.

An autopsy will be performed Wednesday morning by the Jackson County Medical Examiner to confirm the man’s identity.

Shelton was asleep in his bedroom when his home began to burn.

“I got woke up by an extremely warm house,” he said. “I went to open up the door and saw yellow and red flames in the hallway.”

Shelton said he put on some clothes before jumping out his window.

“I had enough time to grab a pair of pants and my pair of shoes,” he said.

Once on the ground, Shelton went over to the west side of his home.

“By that time (the house) was fully engulfed,” he said.

He ran down the street to his neighbors to call for help.

Shelton said he presumes his stepfather was asleep on a couch in a first-floor living room when the fire started.

Shelton said he was upset with the loss, especially after the death of his mother in October.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but authorities do not believe it to be electrical because utilities were not turned on at the residence.

Lopez said the cause will likely be ruled undetermined due to the substantial damage caused by the fire. He said there is nothing at this time that leads investigators to believe foul play is involved.

Shelton plans to stay with family members for the immediate future.

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