Residents sift through rubble after fire rips through KCK townhomes

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Twenty four hours after a fire killed a child and displaced more than two dozen people, KCK investigators continue to sift through the debris for clues, and families sift through the debris for their belongings.

Investigators say it will be awhile before the cause of the fire at the College Park Townhomes near State and Turner is determined.

The damage is extensive. Seven families are looking for new homes. Most of those families spent Sunday sorting through all the things the fire left behind.

Cernyn Macon raised his family in 731 N. 73rd Terrace. He completely renovated the inside of his 1967 townhome, and took pride in showcasing the original tongue-and-groove flooring.

On Sunday, water still dripped from that flooring onto the charred remains of books, food, clothing, bedding, and so much more.

“I didn’t realize how charred this stuff was,” he said as he stood in his youngest son’s bedroom.

There is no reason to what a fire incinerates. It will char clothes and books and years of memories, only to leave behind shampoo bottles.

Macon looked up at the beams that once held the roof; now, it was open to the trees. “There’s really nothing here we can salvage,” said the Schlagle High football coach. “If it didn’t get destroyed by water or smoke... the fire got it.”

Macon hit drywall; some soot came out. “Where the walls were, there’s no walls. Where the roof was, there’s no roof.”

His wife just graduated from nursing school. The fire consumed her cap, gown, and $400 stethoscope. The contents of their safe was reduced to a block of soot. “We lost everything as far as our file cabinet, Macon added, “and social security cards, birth certificates, titles to the car.”

But for all he lost, Macon knows he has a lot left. ”We’re happy that we still have life, family, and friends.”

“We were fortunate, we were totally fortunate,” he added. As for my neighbors, they weren’t.”

Macon blinks, then wipes his eyes. “They lost their daughter.”

He clears his throat. “We knew them, very intimately, so it affects us too.”

There may not be a reason that four year old died in the fire, a fire that spared books and baby blankets, but took a life.

“It’s just a shock,” said Macon, “to see what fire can do when given an opportunity to do what it does best - destroy things.”