Two fatal fires on Kansas side of state line presented similar challenges to firefighters

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KANSAS CITY -- Two deadly fires happened in one day on the Kansas side of the state line; one in Shawnee on Thursday morning killed two people and injured three, and another Thursday night in Kansas City, Kan., killing a man and three animals.

The circumstances of these fires have been devastating for both families. FOX 4 learned that firefighters at both scenes had a hard time getting in to search and save victims because there was a lot of stuff hindering their paths.

Melissa Shook is a family friend of Calvin Romphrey, who died in the fire on Metropolitan in KCK.

"I'm still in shock like, I don't even know what to say right now at all," she said.

Shook says Romphrey and his sister Patty inherited the home when their mother died about 7 years ago. Patty passing away just a couple of months ago, leaving all of her things behind.

Shook said of Patty, "She liked to collect things and stuff like that so it's been a major hassle."

Shook said that Patty was a hoarder, and since she recently passed away, the family has been trying to go through and clean up,

"As you can see, it's a long task. It's all over now," she said.

Romphrey went fishing with his son Thursday and was frying up his catch when he fell asleep, and the house caught on fire, according to Shook.

Firefighters had a hard time battling the fire and the stuff laying around inside the house.

There were similar circumstances to the fire on Lucille Lane in Shawnee that killed 3-year-old Christian Young and 63-year-old Ronnie Walkup.

Shawnee Fire Marshal, Corey Sand said, "Clutter made it difficult for firefighters to get inside and do the search."

The home in Shawnee did have working smoke detectors, but a bigger problem than the clutter in the KCK fire is the fact that home did not have any smoke detectors, according to KCK Fire Marshal John Zimbelman.

The KCK Fire Department is actively trying to get smoke detectors into every home in the city. Recently, the fire department installed 200 in the Argentine Neighborhood during a three-hour sweep.

Fire investigators have cleared and released the scene in Shawnee. They say the fire started in a first floor bedroom. They know what caused the fire and why the victims couldn't get out. for that information, they are preparing an official statement. When they release that information, we will pass it on to you.

The Young and Walkup families have set up GoFundMe pages to help pay for funeral expenses. To help with baby Christian's funeral expenses, go to this link. To help with expenses for Ronnie Walkup, please go to this link.