KCMO firefighters rescue 72-year-old man from burning home

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City firefighters rescued a man from a burning home in east Kansas City Friday afternoon.

Kansas City Deputy Fire Chief James Garrett said the home near Swope Parkway at East 62nd Street had no smoke detectors, making the situation more dangerous for the homeowner.

Family members of Elmer Harris, 72, said the east Kansas City native escaped the fire that started on the second floor, but then, made the mistake of returning to the upstairs area hoping to retrieve some of his belongings.

"I was across the street, and heard a big boom," Bertha Gee, a neighbor, told reporters. "I looked out the window and I saw that big fire over here, and I thought, 'oh my God!' I ran across the street and it was on fire."

The fire sounded even louder to people inside the three-story house. Harris family members said Elmer was on the second floor of the house, when flames were spotted on a set of draperies.

"He got trapped in the house," DeeDee Harris, Elmer's daughter, said. "He was trying to go for his shoes and keys. We were trying to tell him to stay out of the house because the fire was spreading from the curtain to the bed."

DeeDee Harris said she called 911 while making her way downstairs. Gee said Elmer's wife, Beulah, was out of town when this Friday afternoon blaze began. Anthony Harris, DeeDee's twin brother, said he tried to extinguish the blaze before it got out of control.

"I thought I could put it out with some water, but I saw it on the curtains," Anthony Harris said. "One bucket or one tub of water couldn't have done it. The first person I thought about was my dad. I wanted to see where he was and make sure he had gotten out of the house."

The Harris children say this isn't the only tragedy they've faced in recent weeks. Their older brother recently died of kidney failure, and they wonder when they might catch a break.

"I just lost my brother last month. I didn't see this coming too. It's just hard," Anthony Harris said, while fighting through his tears.

The family said Elmer Harris was taken to Research Hospital, where he's being treated for smoke inhalation. DeeDee Harris told FOX 4 she expects her father to recover soon. Garrett said investigators are still trying to determine what caused this fire.