Archive for Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lifetime of memories destroyed in house fire

Family of 10 displaced; home was not insured

Gary Roit, left, consoles Shannan McCawley on Friday as they clean out the charred remains of McCawley's house at 1141 N.Y. A fund has been established at Douglas County Bank to help the family.

Gary Roit, left, consoles Shannan McCawley on Friday as they clean out the charred remains of McCawley's house at 1141 N.Y. A fund has been established at Douglas County Bank to help the family.

June 14, 2008


Fire damage estimated at over $100,000

Damage from a fire at a home Thursday night in east Lawrence is estimated at more than $100,000. Enlarge video

It was a night of highs and lows for Shannan McCawley and her family.

Her son and niece received their GEDs on Thursday night. Then, she received two text messages telling her that her home at 1141 N.Y. was on fire. Lawrence fire officials said Friday that the blaze was due to faulty electrical wiring.

The house she grew up in, where she lives now with her fiance, seven children ages 2 to 17 and her son's girlfriend, was in flames.

A day later, after spending the night with relatives, the family was dazed.

The uninsured home sustained an estimated $106,000 in damage, but McCawley said, "We're blessed, we're very blessed. We all had faith that (God) had us out of the house for a reason."

As McCawley and her children attended the GED graduation ceremony, her fiance, Richard Turner, slept upstairs. He was awakened by the smoke detector.

Turner said he looked for the children, then remembered the family was out of the house. He made his way downstairs, seeing thick smoke and the reflection of flames off the stove. He thinks the blaze started behind the refrigerator.

Firefighters arrived on scene about 7:40 p.m. and declared the scene under control at 8:14 p.m.

Turner said he was grateful that a drawback of the early 20th century home - asbestos-ridden plaster - saved him. He theorized that the material held up better against the flames than what is used to build houses today.

The hardest thing to accept, said Turner and McCawley, is that this all could have been avoided.

In March, they applied for a loan from the city's Neighborhood Resources Division to repair old wiring, remove asbestos and complete other improvement projects.

McCawley claims they were initially approved. But a few weeks later, after an inspection team surveyed the home, McCawley said that approval was rescinded because the work needed to rehab the home exceeded the $25,000 grant.

"The worst part is it's my mama's house," she said, "and I feel like if we got the assistance we needed, it wouldn't have happened."

Larry Hamm, the city's housing projects coordinator, said the family was never approved for a loan.

"Nobody's approved for anything before we sit down with them," he said, adding that the cost to repair the home would have put a burden on both the program and the family.

The house is not a total loss, but the family is not sure how it will rebuild.

The assistance of family, neighbors and the Red Cross may help.

Turner said he was on the phone with family from Lawrence to Atlanta on Thursday night. Mintoy Tolbert, a neighbor who said she called the house a second home as a child, said friends plan on starting a charity fund at Douglas County Bank. Additionally, she donated some of her children's clothes to the family.

"I don't have much, but I'm willing to do what I can," she said.

The family lost all of its photographs, many of the children's toys and many of the possessions left by McCawley's mother, who died several years ago.

"It's kind of a long road ahead," Turner said. "Patience and prayer is what's going to get us through this."


momieslilgirls 9 years, 10 months ago

I grew up with these people and I feel really bad for them. I don't have 7 children myself but she was a teen mom you guys and you have no clue all the fixing up they have done over the years. Of course they couldn't afford to fix the wiring because she is still dealing with the finacial loss of losing a parent. Before you go down the life insurance road I too had a parent pass that couldn't get life insurance and it's been over a year and I am still paying for his death. You all should really mind you business when it comes to her family cuz you don't know them and until you have spent a day in her shoes you have no idea. Really people can be so mean and hurtful, every child that lived in that house went to school, some kids are hard to reach and when they become old enough to skip and such it's really hard to tie them down and make them go to school.

james bush 9 years, 10 months ago

It's just sad, no matter how it's come to this.............I wish them good fortune going forward.

Bladerunner 9 years, 10 months ago

I feel bad these people lost their home. It is also a classic example of people expecting the government to take care of them. Well, it ain't happening. And, you shouldn't expect it to start anytime soon.

lawrencemom 9 years, 10 months ago

We somehow need to educate folks. They were blessed with a house from their family and must not have had a mortgage or they would have had to have insurance. They have funds to pay the cell phone bill but clearly don't understand the risk they are taking by not having homeowners insurance. What a tragedy.

workinghard 9 years, 10 months ago

They can sell the lot for maybe $15,000 to $20,000 and buy a used double wide mobile home. The city likes to pay top dollar for lots so they can raise lot values in that area and drive up property taxes. New owner could take the legal responsibility for tearing down house. Just a suggestion.

Godot 9 years, 10 months ago

MD, the "list" you say the insurance companies keep is just a credit report.

Jay_Z 9 years, 10 months ago

Very sad story. I wish this family all the best.

gweezy 9 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence KS, such a pathetic little town. If doesn't have anything to do with KU basketball , no one cares. You don't know this womans family and circumstances. So don't be judgemental.

skinny 9 years, 10 months ago

No homeowners policy?Seven kids!Wow!

Hilary Morton 9 years, 10 months ago

A lot of you know so very little about the value of homes in this town. Also, we're not all pathetic, gweezy, so keep your generalizations to yourself as you wander the alleys at night, muttering hateful things under your breath.This is terrible, and I hope the family is able to pull together somehow. If anything else, I hope others reading the article in the same situation look to the future, and the dismal possibility of losing it all. Get homeowner's insurance! There are many different companies with various quotes. Someone will help you. I just went through it myself.

OnlyTheOne 9 years, 10 months ago

I think I detect a wee bit of cynicism and sarcasm in the writings here and I agree with about 99% of it. Too bad the citizens of Lawrence can't do something to "Smite their elders (or is it yuppies) down."

1Patriot 9 years, 10 months ago

That house looks like it may have been worth $30,000 to $35,000! I feel for the childern, hopefully they will be able to be more responsible as adults than their parents were. Insurance is mandatory! Maybe the neighbors should have taken up a collection to pay the insurance.It sounds like they are trying to blame anyone but themselves. If the home was so important to them as a family heirloom they should have been more responsible in keeping up with repairs. Stating it "could have all been avoided." I'd like to apply for assistance to pay for the gas I put in my vehicle to drive to work to put in a 12hr. day to make enough money to pay for the gas to drive to work! Do you think I'll get the assistance? Maybe I should just quit my job that way I won't have to work a 12hr. day to pay for the gas!Repairs exceeding $25,000? If the house had faulty wiring it was probably a fire hazard and uninsurable.

dandelion 9 years, 10 months ago

Oh isn't it so much fun to make fun of those who aren't as smart as you. Doesn't it make you feel big? Did you make fun of kids in school too? Call them dummies? Make fun of their clothes? Fortunately this town isn't full of jerks like you all who are so superior to the rest of the world.

Rabbitgoesthump 9 years, 10 months ago

You got 7 people living in a house a sons girlfriend, and 1 who is getting there GED (meaning they prob where not in school alot) someone should have figured out how to fix that lighting..."We're blessed, we're very blessed. We all had faith that (God) had us out of the house for a reason."Maybe god was striking down saying stop having kids... and take responsibility like having them graduate high school... or taking better care of the things you have...

Tara Painter 9 years, 10 months ago

I can't believe these people couldn't keep up with takeing care of there home when so many people are not as lucky to have a home. I also can't believe so many people giving money to people who are not responsible for themself's if you have that many kids you need to keep up with things like that but no one seems to care When On the 11th a double wide trailer went up in flames and you don't see them whining for money and they had kids.

therealAI 9 years, 10 months ago

Thank you, Sizzleplate. I have to agree with you. I know a couple of people, who, years ago, were completely down-on-their-luck, and couldn't afford a darn thing, let along insurance. State wouldn't help......of course....Things changed for them, and it took people willing to help get them back on their feet, and now they are completely on their own, without help from the government, or any individuals.These people probably never had a freakin' break, let alone anyone who gave a darn. Anyway, thoughts are with them tonight.

myopinion 9 years, 10 months ago

IF you read the article, they applied for a LOAN, not free money.

Grump 9 years, 10 months ago

Blame it on the city--if the city had just given them a bunch of free money, this wouldn't have happened. I'd like $25,000 to fix up my house too. The house received $106,000 in damages? Is there any house on the 1100 block of New York that's worth $106,000?

bearded_gnome 9 years, 10 months ago

"patience and prayer." yes, you need that. and hope you will have the strength to keep going. this is a terrible loss. every day, make good choices. of course, some of those posting on here already think they fully understand your circumstances, and throw a lot of rude and unwelcome free is worth every cent you paid for it! Yes, sad story, and I wish them the best: but I do find little sympathy for those who throughout their lives irresponsibly make decisions and find personalmeaning and value in a lifestyle characterized by out of control breeding. That is a BIG part of this whole mess they are in. A BIG part.amazing. this woman is apparently planning to marry a man. is apparently trying hard to make choices that are good ones, difficult given choices she made before. "out of control breeding" nice little catch phrase. you probably also believe humankind is virus upon the earth, too. sorry for your loss, especially the pictures and keepsakes. but thank God no one was harmed! from this point, keep trying to make the responsible choices, and talk a lot with positive people who can mentor you and help you to understand how to make things right.

Tonya Beard Mccawley 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm sorry, I would like to thank the ones who had nice things to say....And for the others we are not asking for hand outs or your pitty, we know this going to be a long road for us but we are strong and we are going to make it.Tonya Beard

toughangel41 9 years, 10 months ago

I agree with so many people on here. It is a horrible and sad thing to go thru first her mama passes away and now she loses her childhood home. Why can't some of you have a little sympathy and compassion for this family. Yes they have had hard times but managed to pull thru she is a strong woman and is very proud of her beautiful children God bless her and her family. As for the idiot that said "Yes, sad story, and I wish them the best: but I do find little sympathy for those who throughout their lives irresponsibly make decisions and find personal meaning and value in a lifestyle characterized by out of control breeding. That is a BIG part of this whole mess they are in. A BIG part." well your just that... a complete idiot with no heart

Tonya Beard Mccawley 9 years, 10 months ago

I am upset with a lot of you who like to judge people you don't know. My sister has lost ever thing and all you can say is she should stop having so many kids. what the hell does that have to do with a house burning down. for one, she has a heart unlike a lot of you. One of those kids isn't even hers (the girls mom couldn't take care of her so my sister, who could not see a child on the street took her in). As far as the insurance, health problems and other things not under her control my mother got behind on the taxes and died. So she has been working on that too. So yes, she got behind............ are you telling me NO ONE out there has done that??????Tonya Beard

profwriter 9 years, 10 months ago

That $25K would have been a loan NOT a handout. It's certainly clear who has expectations here and what a surprise it's the miserably negative people who feed their overinflated egos by spewing hostility on others. The lack of compassion/empathy from such hyper-bloated & hemroid-ridden windbags is quite sad. I'd rather lose everything than have whatever it is that belongs to the intellectually, emotionally & spiritually ugly.To the family I am sorry for your loss. May the blessings to come to you far exceed your anguish.

Godot 9 years, 10 months ago

To the JW management. Block all comment on stories where the loss is so local, so tragic and so fresh.

toughangel41 9 years, 10 months ago

Exactly... thank you everyone with the kind hearts and thoughtful prayers and South? sorry your such a bitter person that thrives on other peoples tragedy's your so judgmental but I've heard your ignorance before so enough said... Have a great day !" I " rest "MY" case

sizzleplate 9 years, 10 months ago

There is way too much self-absorbed ranting going on here... Nobody knows what set of circumstances or situations this family may have been dealing with. As sad as it is, this is the cards they were dealt. Lets show some sympathy and respect for the 8 children involved.

wezie53 9 years, 10 months ago

I know this family. Shannon is a very hard working mother.She takes care and loves her children very much stay off her butt, alot of people couldn't handle the things she has already gone through.her mother was a good woman buthad alot of health issues which made her fall behind. Please be kind to these people they do deserve it.Thank you

gweezy 9 years, 10 months ago

to hilary.... What? that didn't make sense...but that figures, like I said pathetic. People shouldn't judge this I said before. And thats what alot of these comments are doing.

littleone 9 years, 10 months ago

For the family...I am sorry for your loss...I'm sure you are thanking god everyday that you still have your lives..For the other morons on here...Lord forbid, if one of these children had parished in the fire, you would not be making these rude comments. Sure, they were down on their luck, sure, they had several kids, but whose fricking business is it of yours. I just find it hard to believe that some people would kick them in the gut with these comments, when they lost everything. Assistance is just that, ASSISTANCE. regardless of the circumstances. Now, if she was sitting home, smoking crack, and abusing the system (like alot of people do), I would probably have a different perspective. But, I cant see that with this story. My daughter gets assistance. With alot of circumstances surrounding her need for it, lord forbid if anyone, and i mean, ANYONE, ever questioned why she was getting it, well, I would have to do some serious butt whooping. Because nobody knows the CIRCUMSTANCES!!!!

HootyWho 9 years, 10 months ago

Everyone deserves a chance, i guess the city thought the family couldn't pay back the loan, ,, seems like it would have been a good idea to fix the wiring so it would have been a safe place to live, especially with 7 children in the house. As a single mother, i know what its like to get behind in bills, I have a section 8, if it weren't for that, i couldn't afford to pay rent in Lawrence KS, and before anybody says anything, i attended college, but still don't make much money, but i do work.

costello 9 years, 10 months ago

"Lord forbid, if one of these children had parished in the fire, you would not be making these rude comments."Unfortunately they probably would. This crew is brutal.

costello 9 years, 10 months ago

Godot says: "To the JW management. Block all comment on stories where the loss is so local, so tragic and so fresh."I'll second that. Free speech does not justify the ignorant and hurtful comments that are made on this forum after fires, accidents, suicides, etc. The people involved and their loved ones are reading these forums. The discussions aren't productive; they're just mean. Apparently there are some dunderheads in this town who believe every nasty thought that flits through their feeble minds needs to be shared with the world at large. They seem to completely lack the sense of decency which would curb their tongues. I don't know why the LJWorld gives these folks a public forum to abuse their neighbors.

finestack 9 years, 10 months ago

To Shannon and Kids:We are so sorry to have heard about this tragic accident. All of our prayers and thoughts are with you from Wisconsin. Thankfully everyone is safe, and we know you have the love of many friends, neighbors and family members to help get you through this - yet another hurdle in life for you all. We will be here, too.To our past neighbors and friends in Lawrence: How ashamed we are that even a single resident of that proud town would take the time to post malignant words against these human beings in your midst. Are you so self-absorbed that you believe a few ounces of your hatred will damn the outpouring of love now flowing to the aid of struggling and injured people? Or do you feel as if some of the glass in your house has built up enough plaque and filth to protect from the stones sure to come back your way? These are rhetorical questions - no one will care for your answers. Keep them in your own mind, and what's left of your heart.All those who have shown compassion for our good friends, thank you for sharing it with them. It also uplifts those of us who are far away and can't reach out directly. If you have the means to go the next step, please seek out an avenue to help in more ways. They will surely need it.The Finestacks

Cynthia Schott 9 years, 10 months ago

Really, people. Have a heart. These people are fellow human beings... with feelings. With the way the economy is going, we may all be in similar situations.Cindy

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