Discarded cigarettes to blame for Shawnee house fire
Shawnee A large fire claimed a house off 56th Terrace in Shawnee Friday afternoon and fire officials say improperly discarded cigarettes were the cause.
Shawnee Fire Marshal Corey Sands said cigarette butts left in an ash tray on the house's back deck sparked the flames. Teams of Shawnee fire fighters battled those flames after they had climbed up the back wall of the house and into the attic at about 1 p.m. Friday.
The house's owner, Rose Macan, thought she heard the sound of newspaper crinkling or her cats playing before realizing that the back side of her house had caught fire. She lives in the house with her husband, Frank, who was at work when the fire began, along with their two cats Harley and Squeaky.
Neighbors around the Macan house were actually the first to notice signs of trouble. Jason Burns, who lives across the street, said he spotted "little puffs" of smoke billowing from one of the attics' corners.
"It definitely didn't look right," Burns said.
A neighbor on the back side of the Macan house called 911 thinking that a tree had caught fire.
Meanwhile, a third neighbor ran to the front door of the house to let Macan know. Sands said that Macan then went to her kitchen and saw flames on the outside of the house. According to Shawnee Fire Chief John Mattox, another neighbor called 911 reporting flames reaching up the back side of the house to the attic.
"When she saw fire, she immediately ran out," Mattox said.
Macan left the house and took her rental car out of the garage before the flames became visible from the front of the house. Macan's sister Dolores Breck said she was just about to pick Macan up to take her to the auto shop where her car had been repaired after a collision only a couple weeks ago when Macan called her saying her house was on fire. Breck said if she had come just 10 minutes earlier, the house could have completely burnt down without her sister knowing.
Breck said the loss of the house was tragic news as the Macans were very careful and proud homeowners. They will be staying with family until they figure out their living situations.
"You couldn't ask for anyone who took better care of their home," Breck said.
Breck said the Macans had just recently replaced the roof on the house. They moved into the house 15 years ago. Sands said the estimated damage from the fire was about $275,000 and that the house was a total loss due to the fire and water damage.
"This just underscores the importance of properly discarding your cigarettes," Sands said. "Always make sure to make sure they are put out safely."
News about the Macans' cats didn't come until about 30 minutes after the fire had been contained and a Shawnee fire fighter emerged from the house carrying a vocal black cat. It was Harley.
Fire officials said the fire was contained mostly to the upper levels of the house and the family said there were two lower levels where the cats could have found shelter. The other cat, Squeaky, had not been accounted for as of Friday afternoon. sands said investigators believe the cat is on the loose and have notified the neighbors and animal control to be on the look out for a grey cat.
The Macan house is the second house in less than a year to suffer a complete loss in the area. Also in Pflumm Woods, a house on the Richards Lane cul-de-sac burnt to the ground last summer.