Just a week before they were to move in to their “dream home,” an Eastern Jackson County family lost nearly everything when a fire ripped through that house Wednesday afternoon.
Just a week before they were to move in to what they said was their “dream home,” an Eastern Jackson County family said they lost nearly everything when a fire ripped through that house Wednesday afternoon.
All John and Laura Sola and their three children could do was watch from their SUV across the street as firefighters doused the final remnants of a blaze that destroyed what was to be their new home in the 14800 block of East 44th Street in Independence. The fire, fueled by strong winds and extremely dry conditions, also spread to the two houses next door and scorched a patch of lawn at the house across the street. But fire started in the house the Solas were moving into at the time of the blaze.
“This was going to be our very first house,” Laura Sola said before apologizing for breaking down into tears. “This was our dream, and now it feels like we’re in a dream. This house was going to be everything to our kids. They were going to have their own rooms for once, and now we’ve lost almost everything.
“ … I’m scared – I don’t know what will happen next.”
The Independence Fire Department got the call at 3:50 p.m. and the first truck arrived at the scene at 3:53, according to department spokesman Frank Coots. Independence asked and received assistance from the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District in Blue Springs and the Lee’s Summit Fire Department to put out the blaze that appears to have started in the basement.
Laura Sola said she and her children had been moving items from their Blue Springs duplex into the house – which she said next door neighbor Kathie LeRose was going to allow them to rent to buy – when Sola noticed black smoke coming from a vent in a bathroom she had just been cleaning. John was at work as a pool technician with Swim Things in Blue Springs at the time.
“We were nearly packed and ready to go when I saw the smoke coming up,” Laura said. “I went over and turned the door knob to the basement – which I shouldn’t have done – and then kicked the door open, and a black smoke hit me in a wave.”
Laura said her daughter, Kalah, 17, pulled her back from the smoke and led her outside, and then went next door to notify LeRose of the fire and get her out of that house near the intersection of 44th and Phelps Road.
“She’s the real hero here,” Laura said of Kalah. “I was in full panic mode. … She was the calmest of all of us. It’s a good thing for us she had her head on straight.
“This was terrifying. I had never been through something like that. I’m glad she was there because if I had gone down there and tried to put the fire out, I probably wouldn’t have come back up.”
The Solas and LeRose were not injured, though Kalah had a few minor burn spots on her torso. Laura Sola said LeRose was taken to an area hospital to treat anxiety but she was not physically injured.
Coots said by the time Independence firefighters arrived, flames were shooting through the roof. Winds, which reached as high as 30 mph gusts Wednesday, spread it next door to the east, to the roof of LeRose’s house. The winds then shifted and damaged the attached garage and lawn of the house next door to the west.
“These two houses had wooden shingles, and with the wind and dry conditions they were nothing more than fire tinder waiting to happen,” Coots said.
Coots said all three fires and the one in the lawn across the street were quickly doused. Firefighters were still at the scene early in the evening putting out hot spots.
John Sola said the family, while “not looking for a handout,” would accept any assistance they could get. The family said they had moved in all of their furniture and most of everything they owned except their clothes. All of that was lost in the fire.
Laura Sola said they had already given notice to end the lease at the Blue Springs duplex and planned to move in fully next week so they could get settled before enrolling their children in Independence schools on Aug. 1. Kalah went to Blue Springs High School last year and John Jr., 11, was about to attend middle school. Jacob, 4, is not in school yet.
John said they have a place to stay in Blue Springs until the end of the month, but then they will be without a home.
“Then we’re going to be on our own,” he said. “But we’ll be good. We’re resilient.”
Laura said her family has been experiencing a run of bad luck. Her father, Alan Barzee, had narrowly escaped with his life when his house at the corner of Northeast Roanoke Drive and Northeast Glen Drive in Blue Springs exploded in March 2011.
“We’re starting to feel like bad luck is following us,” Laura said.
Coots said 11 fire trucks in all responded, including those from Lee’s Summit and CJC. Because of high temperatures, which reached as high as 105 degrees in Eastern Jackson County, the approximately 40 firefighters worked in shifts to avoid heat illness.
“Their response time was very good, and they did a good job getting it out quickly or it might have been worse,” Coots said.
Coots said the cause of the fire is not known at this time, though Laura Sola said she suspected electrical wiring. Laura said that the house had been vacant for a year and still contained items of the previous residents in the basement and garage that had not yet been cleared out. She said that LeRose, the house’s owner, had agreed to allow the Solas to live there on a rent-to-buy plan.