By Dennis Minich
The spring fire season has barely begun, but already area departments have been called on for a number of fires ranging from grass blazes to two massive struc-ture fires, including one which claimed the life of an 80-year-old woman.
The woman, Barbara Jean Phillips, died in a blaze during the early-morning hours of March 13 in rural Archie. She died in the blaze at a home she shared with her daughter, Penny German, at 34803 Cantrell Road.
According to Central Cass Fire Chief, Jimmy Sebree, the call came in at 3:55 a.m. and the first personnel from his de-partment were on the scene seven minutes later. They found fire shooting out through the windows of the home.
According to Capt. Kevin Tieman of the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, Phil-lips, German and two other people were in the house at the time of the fire. Ger-man helped the two other people escape,
but could not get where Phillips was lo-cated.
German had to travel to a neighbor’s home to call in the fire. Other fire depart-ments assisted in fighting the blaze in-cluding Harrisonville, Adrian, Garden City and Dolan-West Dolan.
The home was rented from Warren Ger-man, Penny’s ex-husband. He said he had rented the home to his ex-wife while he was working out of town. He was plan-ning to stop renting the house and move back in May.
Tieman said the preliminary investiga-tion gave no evidence of foul play how-ever the sheriff’s office and state fire marshal are still investigating the fire.
“The determination of the exact cause will come from the state fire marshal’s office. Several agencies including the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s of-fice is involved so no announcement will
is involved so no announcement will be made until all agencies have completed their reports,” he said.
He said it would likely take about six weeks.
The house was determined to be a complete loss.
Firefighters from Central Cass were joined by Harrisonville, West Peculiar and Dolan-West Dolan for a structure fire Monday afternoon at 26017 Stark Rd. in rural Harrisonville. Destroyed by flames was an outbuilding which included a rental residence as well as a workshop. The property is owned by Tom Matheson.
According to Central Cass Fire Chief Jimmy Sebree, neighbors called in the fire at 12:33 p.m. Units arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and found the metal structure totally engulfed.
Matheson said he was home at the time but was not aware of the fire until alerted by neighbors. No one was in the building at the time of the fire. The cause of the fire is unknown, but explosions were heard when acetylene and oxygen tanks blew. Sebree also said there was ammunition in the shed with exploded making firework-like sounds, but posed no danger to firefighters.
One firefighter was overcome by heat and received treatment at the scene. There were no other reported injuries, but the fire was costly.
Among items lost in the fire, according to Matheson, were a 1955 Chevy, a 2002 Mustang GT, and a 1994 Pontiac Trans Am. A tractor, several saddles and the living unit were also all lost.
Harrisonville’s fire department responded to the scene and helped fight the fire, but the pumper had to be towed for service after losing power. Police Chief Eric Myler said the truck was towed to Belton and would be out of service for a few days.
Although the cause of this fire as well as the fatal fire last week are still not known, they come at a busy time for local fire departments battling grass and field fires. Although much of the ground is wet, the top layers of grass are dry and recent winds have helped spread fires.
Outdoor burning is illegal in Harrisonville, but is allowed in most rural areas.
“There has not been a no-burn order issued yet, but people really need to be careful,” Myler said. “People think they are going to go out a burn some yard waste and the next thing you know their neighbor’s pasture is on fire. It is not a safe time to be burning.