What was once home to a North Lawrence couple and their 1-year-old son now are six rooms with soot-covered walls, floors and ceilings.
"I think we lost everything, honey," Karin Tesch told her boyfriend, Rick Ayers, Thursday afternoon.
The couple, along with relatives and neighbors, rummaged through what fire and firefighters left behind Thursday morning at the house, 750 N. Fifth: broken out windows in the kitchen and living room, skeletal remains of kitchen appliances, and soaked heaps of charred clothes, furniture remnants and picture frames.
But Tesch said she is overestimating their loss.
Two large pickup trucks were parked in front of the house, filled to the brim with possessions, mostly bags of clothes, salvaged from the fire. And on the lawn, several chairs and tables served as proof that more than just the residents survived the blaze.
AYERS SAID if it wasn't for firefighters' quick work, his family wouldn't have been able to salvage anything, including his favorite cowboys boots.
Lawrence firefighters are blaming the fire on a broken gas line behind the kitchen stove. Apparently the natural gas ignited when Ayers turned on the range to cook breakfast shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday. Ayers said he hadn't noticed a gas leak in fact the only thing he was paying attention to was the potatoes cooking on the stove.
Ayers said he went into his bedroom for a brief moment. When he returned, the living room and the kitchen were filled with black smoke.
He immediately filled a large tub with water and dumped it on the fire in the kitchen, but realized he couldn't tame the blaze.
Stretching a kitchen telephone line all the way outside, he dialed 911 to report the fire, he said.
EVERYONE made it out of the house safely, although Lawrence firefighters and Douglas County Ambulance Service paramedics treated Tesch for smoke inhalation at the scene. Tesch was given oxygen because the smoke aggravated her asthma.
"They wanted me to go to the hospital, but I don't have any medical insurance," she said.
Both Ayers and Tesch said they were thankful no one was seriously injured.
"I'm glad it wasn't at night when we were sleeping," Ayers said.
The house had no smoke detectors, he said.
Firefighters estimated the blaze caused $40,000 damage to the residence. The owner of the house, Steve Eudaly, said Thursday night that the structure was insured, but felt bad that Tesch and Ayers had no renters insurance.
THE FIRE ravaged through kitchen and parts of the living room and bedroom. Fire destroyed coats and melted a rocking horse that Dustin, the couple's son, received for Christmas, as well as Tesch's eyeglasses.
The American Red Cross set up an appointment for Tesch to replace the eyeglasses today, and the couple was given gift certificates from area businesses.
Although they lost a lot of possessions including some irreplaceable drawings by Ayers, the couple maintained its sense of humor about the start to a bad day Thursday.
"I told you to take me out to breakfast," Ayers said.
"I know," Tesch said.
The couple said they will stay with relatives in Eudora until the house is fixed or they find another place to stay.