Archive for Friday, December 30, 2011

Early-morning fire displaces family of 11 from rural Douglas County home

Roger and Camay Guillory and their 9 children lost their rural Douglas County home in a fire early Friday morning.

December 30, 2011, 10:20 a.m. Updated December 30, 2011, 11:29 p.m.


Roger and Camay Guilory stand outside their home at 1772 E. 200 Rd., which was destroyed in a fire early Friday morning, Dec. 29, 2011.  The parents and their nine children, ages 13-months to 19-years-old, escaped out a second-floor window.

Roger and Camay Guilory stand outside their home at 1772 E. 200 Rd., which was destroyed in a fire early Friday morning, Dec. 29, 2011. The parents and their nine children, ages 13-months to 19-years-old, escaped out a second-floor window.

Roger Guillory’s 9-year-old daughter, De’Qauria, woke him and his wife, Camay Guillory, about 1 a.m.

De’Qauria couldn’t breathe, she said, because of all the smoke. She had been sleeping in the same room with siblings on the first floor of the family’s two-story farmhouse in northwestern Douglas County.

The girl alerting her parents set off a chain of events early Friday morning that led to nine family members escaping the burning home.

Roger, De’Qauria and five of his other children climbed out a second-story window and dropped 10 feet to the patio — all as smoke was pouring out of the house — into Camay’s arms below. As fire crews arrived minutes later, the house at 1772 North 200 Road was up in flames.

Remarkably, no one was hurt.

“The real hero here is my daughter for coming and letting us know and my wife for getting us out,” Roger said Friday afternoon. “I really didn’t do anything other than teach them a safe exit.”

Camay and their 19-month-old son had got out on the first floor as Roger went back upstairs to help the five other children get out.

He believes their escape from the blaze was a result of constantly working with the children by practicing fire drills and making them aware of what to do in dangerous situations. It’s ingrained in Roger, 36, who works in safety at the ICL Performance Products plant.

“You don’t have time to think,” he said. “It was just a natural reaction for something that we practice.”

As the children followed him outside the second-story window, they were all coughing and gagging on the smoke. He shut the window behind them to try to buy them some time before he began lowering them to his wife.

“We just couldn’t see at all,” he said.

Total loss

The house, which the Guillory family moved into earlier this year, was a total loss, and the fire displaced the family of 11. Two of the children were staying with grandparents and were not home during the fire.

Jane Blocher, executive director of the Douglas County chapter of the Red Cross, said the agency is providing hotel lodging for the Guillory family for five days in addition to providing assistance for food, clothing and other emergency items.

“They will really need additional support beyond what we’ve given,” she said.

Chris Lesser, Kanwaka Township’s fire chief, said that based on interviews with the family he determined that a mattress too close to a space heater likely caused the blaze. Roger said they believe a futon mattress caught fire.

“Any time you use supplemental heat you have to watch it and make sure that combustible materials are kept clear of it,” Lesser said.

The fire was reported at 1:15 a.m. at the home about 2 miles north of Stull.

Lesser said when Kanwaka crews arrived, flames were already through the roof in one part of the house, so firefighters fought the blaze from outside the home as a defensive maneuver. All of the family members were out of the house by the time firefighters arrived. He said crews cleared the scene after 7 a.m.

No firefighters were injured, and crews from Wakarusa and Clinton townships and Lecompton Fire/EMS assisted.

Trucks from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical and Willow Springs and Eudora townships also were at the scene.

Fire safety

Blocher said it made a huge difference that Guillory had the children regularly participate in fire drills and other safety measures, especially because the fire occurred in the middle of the night, which is often very dangerous.

If one needs a reminder, two grandparents and their three young granddaughters died in a Christmas morning fire in Stamford, Conn.

“This could have had a tragic ending,” Blocher said of Friday morning’s fire, “and it did not.”

The Guillory family’s belongings are destroyed, along with the home they were buying.

They did not have insurance, Roger said. But Friday afternoon he was just thankful for their lives and the support they received from neighbors and others.

“We’re not really worried about that,” he said. “God is good. We’ll get by.”

First, they will focus on finding another place to live and then go from there.

Guillory also hopes the family’s story can help others. They worked to make the children aware of safety, not only based on his job but also through what they learn about fire safety at school. They had even rehearsed the same second-story escape route they took.

“I would travel the country and tell people that those things work,” he said, “and my family has been through it. I would. We shared that with our kids, and that saved lives.”

Reporter George Diepenbrock can be reached at 832-7144. Follow him at


Deja Coffin 6 years, 5 months ago

So sorry to hear about the loss of home and possessions. I think it's so nice to hear that the family was safe and the father had a fire escape plan that he practiced with his children. This story has helped me to realize that I don't need to just tell my kids what to do in case of a fire but also practice the right procedures. Again, sorry for the loss and I know that some things may be irreplaceable so I will be praying for the family in the days a head but so glad to hear everyone is okay.

KUFan1984 6 years, 5 months ago

Should we contact the Red Cross for more information on assisting this family, or will the JW have more info later? We have quite a few clothes, books, etc. we could potentially donate for the children, if age, size, and gender were known.

cjeter 6 years, 5 months ago

Indeed, we have several sacks full of 0-3 (maybe 4) year old clothes for boys. If there is a good way to get them to the family let us know!

KUFan1984 6 years, 5 months ago

I just attempted a phone call (no answer) and sent the RC an email, so I'll let you know if I hear anything!

Paul N Zimmer 6 years, 5 months ago

smallest child is a boy who wears size 5 in toddlers. These would not help them. We are working on helping them, His Hands Clothing Closet (eudora), a free clothing outreach that helps anyone especially in displaced situations.

KUFan1984 6 years, 5 months ago

Just talked to the RC. They recommended waiting until next week for donations. Understandably, the family has many things on their minds, and are currently limited to the space of a hotel room. Hopefully, once needs are worked out, this information will be made available.

Christine Anderson 6 years, 5 months ago

I wonder what happens to them if they don't have a place to stay after these five days?

May Soo 6 years, 5 months ago

Most likely they will find a placed to go, and the community will step in to help like always.

Germara 6 years, 5 months ago

Im the mother of those children and I am also trying to find out this information from another state. I've been trying to get my children up to Spokane, WA which would take some of the stress of their dad but I can't get any information from anyone, or assistance to make that happen. I'm a wreck looking for answers and trying to get my children to a safe place (HOME).

Charlie Sabotage 6 years, 5 months ago

if they are your children, why are you in WA? Did he remarry and you left the kids with him? It's been two years since you have seen them? He did a wonderful job getting his kids out, and it is a very sad situation. It is weird to a reader and a commenter to read about the gentleman neing married but the childrens mother in another state, I'm sorry for your displacement and know that getting remarried happens all of the time. It sounds like a confusing time timefor everyone. Good luck and glad all are well

middlemgmt 6 years, 5 months ago

The insurance company should take over loss of use coverage and help them rent something until the home can be rebuilt. The bigger problem will be finding a rental big enough for a family of 11. My heart goes out to this family. Great job dad for making sure your family knew what to do in an emergency.

riverdrifter 6 years, 5 months ago

Smoke detector present? Guess it was that little girl. Man, oh man, this was a near major league disaster.

Germara 6 years, 5 months ago

Im the mother of 6 of the children that were in this fire including the one that saved the day. It hurts my hurt to no end because I can't find any assistance to get my children to spokane, wa where i reside. They have a home, I just don't have financial backup to make it happen. I also have the sizes of all the children for anyone who has a heart to help. They've been through so much and they are truly Gods blessing to me so every little bit helps. Thank you to everyone who lends or who can lend a helping hand.

Kim Pickel 6 years, 5 months ago

My heart breaks for you and your children. I wish I was in a position to assist you in getting your children to Spokane. I cannot imagine what you or your children are going through. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your children.

Germara 6 years, 5 months ago

Picture being 2000 miles away from your children and then finding out they lost everything, and have no where to go and as a mother, and not being able to get to them or get them to you. Thank you for your prayers. God will make a way to make it better. I'm not gonna stop pursuing help and assistance until I know my children are safe and that they know i'm here trying all i can to help make like better for them.

Amy Heeter 6 years, 5 months ago

If it is a option for the kids to go to you I suggest you call the salvation army to see if they call help.

Germara 6 years, 5 months ago

Yeah I've been talking to them already and the only thing available is temporary shelter for them for the week. Everything else is up to them and outside resources.

Paul N Zimmer 6 years, 5 months ago

I will be trying to help, I have some of the sizes but if you could go to facebook: His Hands Clothing Closet this is my site for donors, sponsors, clients. I run a free clothing outreach and working on putting as much together as humanly possible. I feel for all of you, and will be praying for you all as I am gathering as much help as I can provide. I have called and let the father know we are here for the family with clothing. I am working on seeing if I can get new shoes for the children. ANything else I can get to help will be great? This is one of my specialties. Sending prayers your way. You can go to my facebook page and leave the sizes of clothing, shoes, etc. there for me. I have some of my donors and sponsors working on items for the family as well. We can all STEP UP and do as much as we can, we could all be in this situation. God Bless You.

LogicMan 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm glad they are all OK.

That place appears to have been a disaster in waiting. Apparently no working smoke detectors? No insurance? (Renting?) Balloon framing, with no fire-stopping, evident in the picture too.

Getaroom 6 years, 5 months ago

Well then aren't you so fortunate to have everything you need and so logical to boot. Ever consider finding a heart to go along with that logic. People do what they can to get by in this world and then there are people like you who feel they need to rub salt in the wound. Stop it already!!

imastinker 6 years, 5 months ago

You can't make this a financial thing. Smoke detectors are often given out free by fire departments. Although this is probably the landlord's responsibility (I'm assuming they rent becuase the only other way to not have insurance is to won the home free and clear, and I'm sure they would have insurance in that situation as well).

jellybeanies 6 years, 5 months ago

Read my reply below. They have a history of irresponsibility, especially when it comes to fire safety.

timbercreeks 6 years, 5 months ago

The dad just lost everything, lets take the kids away from him to? They were obviously with him for a reason.

Germara 6 years, 5 months ago

the kids have been away from their mother for 2 years, and this is a great time for them to spend with their mother while their dad regroups. No one wants to take them away but why have them going from pillar to post when they can be with their mother. ME!!! Im really sorry you feel that way, But i thought what was best for the kids was the important factor here.....

imastinker 6 years, 5 months ago

Germara, dad's don't get custody unless the mom is a complete mess. You aren't making this situation any better for advocating that they come stay with you.

imastinker 6 years, 5 months ago

Germara, dad's don't get custody unless the mom is a complete mess. You aren't making this situation any better for advocating that they come stay with you.

Germara 6 years, 5 months ago

Not that it's any of your business but i didn't lose custody of my children. They were living with their father and his wife at the moment. The purpose of my post was not to take them away from him, he is their father for Gods sake the purpose of my post is to seek assistance in getting them to me for the sake of decreasing the stress for their father, so that he is able to pick back up again, as easy and stress free as possible, So it is indeed in the best interest of the children to be with their mother and or family during this time of hardship. They need to be home regardless of whether it's with their mom or dad and fortunately they had two homes, mines and their dads prior to the incident. To everyone else who may have any advice of assistance available, it is greatly appreciated, and may god bless you in return.

pace 6 years, 5 months ago

Too much speculation about personal issues. If the father and mother wish help to relocate the kids, or if the intown family has specific wishes. Please let us know. It was the line "“I really didn’t do anything other than teach them a safe exit.”" that moved me. My mom and dad had us do drills. Good for the family, I am glad all were safe. What a harrowing and scary night it must of been. Thank you to the paper and the commenter for additional information.

broddie 6 years, 5 months ago

LogicMan, did you read about the family that was killed in Connecticut? The mom was a top New York ad exec with a 7 figure salary. They had the best brand-new construction money could buy, smoke dectectors, fire stops and insurance. Didn't save her family. all of her children AND her parents were killed.

I think the point is that a smoke detector is worthless if you don't have a good way to get out of the house. A lot of these big MacMansions would benefit from external fire exits, but many neighborhood associations forbid them.

I remember looking at a house in the Barker district where the owners took down the old iron fire escape to the attic because they thought it looked "tacky." I hope to God they never have a fire.

Kudos to Mr. Guillory for making his family do fire drills. That's what saved their lives.

broddie 6 years, 5 months ago

turns out it was caused by poor fireplace safety.

larrytdog 6 years, 5 months ago

1772 N. 200 Rd. is south and east of Baldwin. Should the text read 1772 E. 200 Rd.?

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 5 months ago

I worked for the same company as Roger when it was FMC, and they do indead have a safety work practice, we went for over four years without a lost time acciden, unheard of for a 24-7 chemical plant. Glad all are out and safe..

friendlyjhawk 6 years, 5 months ago

Wherever the location is it is a terrible situation for this family. Having everyone get out alive is amazing. Does anyone else think it is odd that "Germara" is claiming to be the mother of some of these children on a public anonymous site?

brewmaster 6 years, 5 months ago

I am very relieved that everyone is safe. However, I agree with friendlyjhawk. It is odd that supposedly the mother that resides out of state focuses on and devotes time to revisiting a reader response forum and repeatedly posting as an anonymous poster. It is even more dubious, even suspect because of the crass attempts to solicit money through an anonymous reader response forum.

alsbaby1954 6 years, 5 months ago

Germara, I am from Winnie and now live in Louisiana. You were in the hospital having one of your children when Roger was performing our wedding ceremony at that very minute! I want to say, in the first place, that I am sorry for all you have had to put up with on this site. I am here because someone e-mailed me the video clip and I just happened to scroll down to this mess. It may be how you ended up here as well and people do what they have to in order to get through during a crisis. Always someone looking for something under the rug if you know what I mean. Anyway, I'm waiting to hear from Roger. I'm confident that by this time, someone has helped get those kids to you and I wanted to tell you that I'm so glad that they are all safe! We don't hear from Roger much since moving north, but we are all busy. It just irritated me that in the middle of all of this there has to be someone making it worse. God bless you and I'll get info. about you from Roger.

nkinman 6 years, 5 months ago

I feel that regardless of the hearsay and opinions, there is a family in need and that is where we will be effective if we focus on helping this father, his wife, and children. For facebookers you can search for His Hands Clothing Closet Ltd for needs info and where to make donations. All the absolute best for this family....

Paul N Zimmer 6 years, 5 months ago

Well said nkinman. Focus on the family. Right now we need to be stepping up and trying to Bless them any way we can. Could use pants 34 X 34 mens (jeans, and nice dress slacks) and womens size 11, I am Christine from His Hands CLothing CLoset (thanks for the mention). I usually only do clothing, shoes, coats, but this family has touched my heart and I know their is a huge Blessing waiting for them right around the corner. Dont be so quick to sit in judgement it could be you in this same position. Instead, use your energies to get aide to this great family. 542-3528 to anyone who has leads on a possible home for this family. Or to help with donated items. I currently have most of the clothing items except pants for Mom and Dad. Once they get a suitable home they will need all the furnishings, if you happen to know someone who could help that works for a large furniture store perhaps. Any way you can lend a hand would be appreciated. Let the Lord be the one who sets judgement, no one is perfect.

jellybeanies 6 years, 5 months ago

This family rented my home while my family was out of state. My husband is military and was stationed far away from Kansas. He was serving in Iraq. We rented our home because we could not afford to support two households while we were away from our home in Lawrence.

They did not pay their rent, but I tried to have a heart because they were such a large family and gave them months to get caught up. They never did. We ended up evicting them. When I returned to my home, it had been destroyed by this family. They did over $40,000 worth of damage. Every wall, floor, appliance, fixture....everything was destroyed. The house was filthy. Mold was growing on the walls in the laundry room. They had allowed a charcoal grill to fall over on the wooden deck and it burnt through the deck and the siding of my home. There was candle wax everywhere throughout the home in the carpets and on the window sills. I suspect they frequently had their electricity shut off and relied on candles. One of the mirrored medicine cabinets in a bathroom had been in contact with a flame and burned.

I can't even begin to explain the blatant disregard this family had for my home. I feel sorry for anyone that rents to them because it seems they destroy anything they come into contact with. I am glad no one was hurt, but I will have no sympathy for them past that.

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