Friends, neighbors remember 62-year-old Vietnam veteran killed in house fire

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Friday morning fire near 56th and Hardesty in Kansas City left one man dead. Another resident of the home managed to escape unharmed.

But the house is a total loss.

Friends and neighbors are now praying for the family of the man who died, fondly remembering the 62-year-old Vietnam veteran who they say had a heart of gold.

"Lots of sirens, lot of commotion going up and down the road," neighbor Michelle Hayes said.

"Boom. Boom. Boom. I woke up and said, 'Oh my god,'" said Nathaniel Gusman, a neighbor and friend of the victim.

The loud booms were coming from the house along Hardesty near 56th Street. Fire crews said the homeowner was on oxygen, and several oxygen tanks exploded as they attacked the fire.

"It pushes us back, yeah, for just a second, then we move forward again," KCFD Deputy Chief Jimmy Walker said.

Fire crews said a man in his 60s, who was a smoker, lived here with his adult nephew. The nephew smelled smoke and went to get his uncle, but the flames were too intense. He escaped without injuries, but his uncle didn't make it.

"My heart goes out to the family. It's just unfortunate," Hayes said.

Nathaniel Gusman lives a couple blocks down. He and neighbors said the man who died was 62-year-old Daniel Frayling Sr., an Army veteran who served in Vietnam. Nathan visited with Daniel often over the past six years.

"We just have long conversations and enjoy a few beers, turn up the loud music, listen to the '80s and just laugh, fun memories and thoughts and stuff like that, having a good time," Gusman said.

Neighbors said Frayling was also active in his church and volunteered to help the homeless.

"He was very smart, intelligent guy. He was always happy, fun, laughing," Gusman said.

Investigators are still trying to determine exactly how the fire started.

There were no working smoke alarms inside. The fire department reminds everyone that you can get you a smoke detector free, and they'll even help install it if needed.

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