Archive for Thursday, March 1, 2001

Blaze damages Bonnser Springs firefighter’s home

March 1, 2001

Firefighters, police officers and paramedics say the hardest situation to deal with is when it involves one of their own.

Members of the Bonner Springs Fire Department faced that challenge Monday when they responded to a fire at the home of Brian and Patsy Wagner.

Brian, a volunteer firefighter for the past two years, was actually at the station working on his truck when the blaze broke out in his home at 421 Bluegrass Drive.

"When it's one of your own or when it's someone you know, the adrenaline really pumps a lot harder," Fire Chief Warren Hanks said.

Brian's wife, Patsy, was at home with the couple's two-year-old son when she heard a noise that she said sounded like something fell. When she walked around the house and went into the garage, she said she didn't see anything.

Later, when she smelled smoke, Patsy said she opened the door leading to the garage and "the flames just came in."

Patsy called her husband at the fire station, got her son and went outside to wait for firefighters to arrive.

Nobody was injured in the blaze, which Hanks said probably destroyed the family's garage and caused smoke and fire-control damage to the remainder of the home.

Hanks said investigators believe the fire was associated with a clothing dryer, which was in a utility room area within the garage. He said the exact details of what sparked the blaze are still being investigated.

Meri Kelley, who was visiting her mother two houses down the street from the Wagner's house, said it didn't take long for the fire to spread.

"It didn't look bad, but once the smoke started, it had already engulfed the garage," Kelley said. "It's a horrible, horrible thing."

Several neighbors reported hearing approxiamtely five small explosions from the garage area, which they believe may have been fuel tanks from lawn equipment stored in the garage. The Wagners own a lawn service.

Janet Lemon, who lives next door to the Wagners, said she was concerned the fire might spread to her own home.

"The flames were coming this way," Lemon said. "I saw the power line go down and that's when I started to freak."

The heat from the fire snapped an overhead power line, which was repaired by a Kansas Power and Light employee shortly after the blaze was extinguished.

Lemon said she feels bad for the Wagners, who have always been good neighbors to her family.

"Whenever we needed help, they were here," Lemon said. "(Brian) is a really good guy. Whenever someone needed help, he was always the first one to help."

Of the family's three children, only one was home at the time of the blaze. The Wagners' other children were at school.

Lemon said people don't realize how devastating a fire can be until it happens to them.

"Even though it's not our house, I think about all the possessions they lost," Lemon said.

Still, Lemon said she is glad it was only possessions that were damaged in the fire.

"At least they got out with their lives," Lemon said. "That's the most important thing."

Hanks said he is pleased with the way his department's firefighters handled the fire at the home of one of their own.

"They did a good job," Hanks said. "They would have liked to have done better, but they did good."

Fire officials said that anyone interested in making donations to the Wagner family should contact the Vaughn-Trent Center at 441-0461.

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