Firefighters responded early Sunday morning to a house fire west of Lawrence but were unable to prevent the home from burning down.
The second floor and roof of the home were fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
“We had fire blowing out the front and the back,” Kanwaka Township Fire Chief Duane Filkins said.
The fire was reported about 4:50 a.m. Sunday at 1565 E. 800 Road, which is southwest of the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and the South Lawrence Trafficway.
Filkins said the people who lived in the house, an 84-year-old man and his 59-year-old son, had been running three fans to keep the residence cool. One of the fan’s electric cords grew hot, starting the fire. The fire then spread, igniting the 84-year-old man’s oxygen tanks, which he used for a lung condition. The tanks exploded, fueling the flames, which then spread to the garage, igniting a number of small propane tanks.
Filkins said the explosion from the propane tanks collapsed the home’s roof, making access to the fire difficult for firefighters.
Filkins added that the building’s construction might have aided the fire’s spread. The 102-year-old building was formerly a school house that had been converted into a home.
“There was nothing in the walls to keep the fire from spreading,” Filkins said.
Filkins said that another person lived at the house but was not home at the time of the fire.
Firefighters from Kanwaka Township responded to the fire, in addition to Clinton Township, Eudora Township, Willow Springs Township, Lecompton and Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.
Shortly before 8 a.m., Jane Blocher, executive director of the Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross, said the agency had provided hotel lodging, food and clothing assistance to the house’s residents, as well as their German shepherd.
Filkins said none of the residents or the dog sustained injuries.