Shocked friends identify, mourn Kansas City man killed in house explosion

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Close friends have identified the man who died Wednesday in a house explosion as Melvin "Lee" Mecker.

Mecker owned Buddies KC bar in Midtown. On Thursday, friends gathered at his bar to share stories of their loved one.

Melinda Hudgens first met Mecker nearly 35 years ago. She described her friend as a kind, loving man who always wanted to lend a helping hand.

"If you needed a hand out and he could do it, he would do it for you. He was a really great guy," Hudgens said.

On Thursday, she dropped off flowers, saying goodbye to her friend of nearly 35 years.

Melvin "Lee" Mecker

"I just wanted to let him know that no matter what no matter where he is, we still love him and he is still here," she said.

On Thursday, investigators took photographs and used K-9s as they searched through the rubble. Crews also brought in pumps to drain the water used to fight Wednesday's fire.

"As we dig through, we go through the debris and spread it out and try to look for anything that could lead us to a cause," Deputy Chief Jimmy Walker said.

Crews responded to a house fire just after 4 p.m. Wednesday near 15th and Fremont.

When firefighters arrived on scene, the house had already collapsed from the explosion. Firefighters soon learned one person was still trapped inside the destroyed home and spent the next several hours trying to rescue that person.

Officials on scene said the debris and smoke made it difficult for crews to rescue the victim.

The cause of the explosion is unknown at this time.

So as the investigation continues, Mecker's friends are holding each other close, and holding on to the memories of their friend taken too soon.

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