Gasoline mishap burns down house and leaves homeowner needing surgery

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HOLT, Mo. -- A weekend house fire in Clay County costs a family everything they own.

To make matters worse, the homeowner, Corey Johnson, 27, will need surgery as he remains a patient at a Kansas City hospital.

"I don't know what hell looks like, but I turned around and saw flames everywhere," Johnson said from his bed at Research Medical Center.

When that Johnson's home caught fire on Father's Day, he says he tried putting it out himself. That decision left him burned, and in the hospital, and his home in rural Clay County burned to the ground. Johnson says he and his two young sons went dirt biking on Sunday. When they returned home, according to Johnson, he took a five gallon can filled with gas into the home's entryway, with intentions of quickly moving it to the garage. Johnson says that's when it caught fire, and now, he and four others have no place to live.

Strong medicine from the hospital's burn unit is helping Johnson's physical pain. He says he has second-degree burns to his hands, feet and shins. However, nothing can make the pain of losing the family's home and possessions feel better. Johnson and his sons had lived in the home, which sits near Nation Road and N. 174th Street in Holt, for two years. Neighbors say the home was in terrible shape, until Johnson worked to beautify the house and land.

Johnson says the gas can caused some carpet to burn, and he couldn't stop the flames. A neighbor recorded video of the house as firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze.

"I don't know if I knocked the gas can over, or what had happened," Johnson told FOX 4 News on Tuesday.

"Next thing you know, everything's on fire. I tried running and jumping through window and it didn't break."

Johnson says he was home alone, and a neighbor had to drag him from the burning house. Kearney Fire Chief Larry Tennant told FOX 4 News his investigators are still looking into factors surrounding the fire.

"I'm happy to be alive. I'm happy my kids weren't in the house. I'm glad no one else was in the house when it happened," Johnson said.

Johnson, as well as other members of his family, says the home is a complete loss. He says his two kids weren't home, and neither were his girlfriend or her daughter. All of the family's possessions were reduced to ash.

"It was just a column of black smoke going up," Brian Keeth, Johnson's nextdoor neighbor, said.

Keith says he knows the Johnsons well. His heart goes out to the family, because 35 years ago, he says his own family lost their home and belongings in another house fire.

"It causes a lot of nightmares. I'm one of those people who re-lives everything over and over again in my dreams. I'm sure it's going to be a hard thing to get over," Keeth said.