KCMO fire survivors credit popping and crackling sounds for saving their lives

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KANSAS CITY, Mo.  -- A couple, who lost everything in an east side house fire on Sunday, says they're thankful to be alive.

The survivors say they plan to overcome the devastation, one day at a time.

The house, near 28th and Elmwood, filled with smoke while Loretha Ford and Lenn Riley were sound asleep. A smoke detector in the house didn't have a working battery.

The couple credits crackling and popping noises made by the burning blaze for saving their lives. Riley says the sounds woke him up around 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

Riley got out of bed and says he was confronted by a wall of fire in the dining room.

The couple says firefighters told them a space heater in the room overheated, causing the fire.

Loretha Ford says her husband yelled for her to get out. She escaped out the front door, following by Riley, who ran out of the burning building naked.

"I heard some noise in the dining room," Riley said. "I thought someone was breaking in. I heard a lot of glass breaking and crashing so I jumped out of bed. Once I jumped out of the bed and opened up the other door, there it was right in my face."

Both victims say they coughed up a lot of black phlegm from breathing toxic smoke, but they both are alive and thankful for it.

As they surveyed the damage Monday, there's not much they can salvage. They're getting support from family, and the Red Cross may offer some emergency aid. They're determined to repair the damage to the home they've lived in for the last five years, but they know it's going to take some time.

The expense of lumber, drywall and other building materials to repair the burned out rooms may be the most difficult challenge the couple will face. But they say they will work on it little by little, one day at a time.

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