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Fire claims landmark home in Burns

Staff writer

The majestic three-story home built in the late 1880s by J. W. Barker burned to the ground early Friday morning in Burns, leaving nothing but the foundation and stone steps that led to the entrances.

Les and Rhonda Loucks and their six children escaped with no injuries, but the family lost everything in the fire.

Burns Fire Chief Barry Black said the cause of the fire was unknown.

“The state fire marshal’s investigator listed the cause as ‘undetermined’ because of the amount of damage,” Black said. “Everything was just destroyed.”

He said his department’s own investigation is inconclusive at this time.

It is thought the fire started at about 5 a.m. in the basement. The historic home had three stories. One of the Loucks’ sons occupied a room on the third floor. The rest of the family was asleep in second-floor bedrooms.

A smoke alarm awakened them and the family escaped the burning home.

In an interview with a Wichita television station, Les Loucks said, “I got one child out the front door and she (his wife) got the rest out the back and then we just kept counting heads to make sure everyone was there. It is all kind of a blur.”

The family is staying in a motel in Newton while they try to figure out their next step.

A fund has been established with Community National Bank of Burns to help the family with immediate expenses. Bank employee Colleen Brunner said donations may be mailed to the bank at 207 N. Washington St., Burns, 66840, or dropped off during business hours.

Burns City Clerk Carol Callahan said volunteers have organized a community potluck dinner to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Burns Community Building.

“They hope everyone in the Burns and Peabody communities will come,” she said. “It will be a chance for people to visit with the family.

“Everyone bring a dish. Table service and drinks will be provided. There will be a contribution box for donations,” she added.

For more information about donations, contact Community National Bank in Burns at (620) 726-5210 or the Burns City Building at (620) 726-5819.

Last modified Feb. 18, 2010

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