Electric blanket may have caused fire that killed 96-year-old Lone Jack woman last week

LONE JACK, Mo. -- Fire investigators believe an electric blanket may have caused a fire Friday that killed a woman.

The fire happened happened around 5:30 p.m. Friday at a Lone Jack, Missouri, home near West Main Street and North Bynum Road.

Ryan Gardner said the fire that took the life of his longtime neighbor -- 96-year-old Lucille West -- has stunned the entire neighborhood.

"It is hard as a community because, here in Lone Jack, we're pretty tight knit community, and everybody knows everybody and everybody's business. It's sad," Gardner said.

It's a sadness that Lone Jack Fire Chief David Kelsey said he and his crew will feel for quite some time as West's house sat just across the street from the station.

"Just seeing her on a day-to-day basis as I go in and out between the office and home -- when the weather's decent, she's almost always outside, and we`ll exchange, if nothing else, a wave as a I pass by," Kelsey said. "She will be missed. It's a big loss."


Kelsey said crews were able to contain Friday's flames rather quickly but found Lucille unconscious on the living room floor. She was taken to a Lee's Summit hospital where she died.

Investigators believe the fire was started by an electric blanket. ​


"She had limited sources of heat within her house," Kelsey said. "She was using a natural gas space heater and some other electric heaters and a few electric blankets to keep warm at night."

Unfortunately, there were no smoke detectors in the house.

Neighbor John Cimino said he uses similar items to keep warm in the winter, which he says is a constant struggle.

"It is very difficult, especially if you have electric heat," he said. "I've lived with gas heat my whole life, and electric heat is completely different. It doesn't keep you near as warm."

Now neighbors are trying to stay positive.

"Make life count," Gardner said. "She was a very fine lady, and you never know. If you can help somebody, help somebody."