Monday evening house fire displaces family; neighbor helps rescue dogs

A family was displaced but no one was injured in a house fire in eastern Lawrence Monday evening.

The fire, at 2517 Maverick Lane, was first spotted by 16-year-old Kade Bassett, who noticed smoke billowing from the house next door as he took his dogs out Monday evening, he said. As he walked to the side of the property, he began to see flames.

“Their front door was locked so I went in through the garage. I knew they had two bulldogs,” Bassett said. “It was pretty hot in there.”

Lajuana Rice embraces her dog, Bruiser, who was saved from a fire at Rice's home in the 2500 block of Maverick Monday evening.

Bassett said he was able to lift Honaw, a full-grown bulldog, and take her outside, but he couldn’t lift the larger of the two dogs, Bruiser. He wasn’t able to walk Bruiser to safety until police arrived and kicked down the front door, he said.

Fire medical Division Chief Justin Temple said the fire call came in at 8:35 p.m. Firefighters arrived within five minutes and had the blaze under control by 8:58 p.m., he said.

“It was a quick knock down, nobody was home, but we did rescue a couple of pets,” he said.

Aside from the two bulldogs, firefighters also pulled two cats from the home, Temple said.

Resident Lajuana Rice said she, her husband and her three children were out bowling when the fire broke out.

When they returned home, Rice ran down the street, over fire hoses and past on looking neighbors, toward her home.

“Are my dogs okay?” she screamed, noticing a neighbor holding Honaw’s leash.

She immediately turned to firefighters squatting on the ground, working to revive her cats. One of the cats, whose name was Platinum, died as a result of the fire, Temple said. The fate of the second cat, Sienna, was not immediately clear.

“(Platinum) slept with me every night,” Rice said. “This was my baby and she’s definitely gone.”

Temple said the cause of the fire was still under investigation, but it did not appear to be suspicious.

Rice said she was thankful she and her family were not home during the fire, and expressed her gratitude to Bassett for rescuing the dogs.

Bassett’s parents, Dylan and Kay Bassett, said they were proud of their son.

“It’s not surprising,” Dylan Bassett said. “He’s a great kid — excuse me, young man.”

Temple said the extent of the damage wasn’t immediately clear, but the Rice family would not be able to stay in the home. He was contacting the American Red Cross to find a place for the family to stay Monday night.