Family of house fire that killed metro firefighter: 'We can start over again, all they have left is the memories'

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PECULIAR, Mo. — Karina Figueroa and her family likely lost everything in a Sunday morning house fire that claimed the life of a metro firefighter. Right now they are not thinking about themselves.

“We can start over again, the firefighter's family can’t. All they have left is the memories," Figuroea said.

Officials have identified the West Peculiar firefighter who was killed as 30-year-old Chuck McCormick.

The fire started shortly after 11 a.m. at a home near Deer Run Road and 221st Street / Peek Road in Peculiar.

Grandview Fire Chief Ron Graham says McCormick fell through the floor near the front door of the home as firefighters entered the home. McCormick fell into the basement and was critically hurt. He was airlifted to the hospital where he died.

"One of the things that you train on in is that when you go in, you hit the floor and you’re feeling the floor. You never know if the fire is below you or above you, or where it’s at for sure," Chief Graham explained.

Officials said McCormick was a husband and father of three young boys, ages 4, 5 and 7-years-old. He died responding to what would normally be considered a fairly routine call.

“It comes in as a laundry room on fire you think it is no big deal we run 100 of those a year," Graham said.

Five people including three children were inside the home when the fire started, according to the family. Figueroa was at work when she got a call from her fiancee.

“He said he heard the kids making some noise upstairs and he got scared and then he went upstairs and saw the fire tried turning it off and his mom called 911," Figueroa said..

“It was big and it went very fast," her fiancee's mother Paula McWhirt said.

The family says inside the ashes of their home are the cremated ashes of a deceased grandparent. A chihuahua also died in the fire. But they realize it’s nothing compared to  what the family of  McCormick lost.

Firefighters would come in from area stations to relieve grieving firefighters at West Peculiar, where McCormick had worked for just 3 or 4 weeks and South Metro where he’d worked for the past 3 or 4 years. The fire chief broke the news to McCormick’s family.

“We won’t leave them. It’s not just a notification and we walk out the door, it’s a family and we are all going to be here tomorrow and the next day whatever they need, they will never need anything," Graham said.

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