Two families, both with children who attend Linn County schools, are in need of assistance after losing their homes in fires over the weekend.
Prairie View USD 362 officials are asking community members to help the families get back on their feet by donating money, gift cards and other necessary items.
The first fire took place Friday, March 22, in La Cygne. Jen and Jerry McCarty and their three daughters were able to make it out safely, along with their dog, but the home was a complete loss, according to a school district social media release.
Jen said it was a cooking fire that started at about 5:30 p.m. Friday, and Jerry suffered second- and third-degree burns on his arm and other areas. He had successful surgery Monday.
La Cygne fire chief Dan Nasalroad said crews were quickly on the scene at 624 E. Market St. and worked to put out the fire on the north end of the home near the kitchen and porch.
It took about an hour to extinguish all of the flames, and Nasalroad said there was extensive heat, smoke and water damage.
Jen said they have been overwhelmed by the positive support they have received so far from the community, and she said the best way people can help right now is to make a monetary donation to the Jen and Jerry McCarty Benefit Fund at any First Option Bank location.
The family currently is staying at a hotel with the help of relatives, but Jen said they are actively looking for new home options because they don’t want to leave the community.
The second fire took place Saturday, March 23, at a home on 363rd Street west of Plum Creek Road and south of Osawatomie. James and Laurie McCarthy and their eight children were not home at the time of the fire.
Osawatomie Fire Chief Brian Love said the call came in at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, and Osawatomie firefighters responded, along with tender tanker aid from Paola and Fontana fire departments.
When firefighters arrived, they did not yet know the family was not home, so Love said his firefighters attacked the fire while making entry and conducting a perimeter search. Neighbors also made entry before firefighters arrived and conducted a search, Love said.
It took about 45 minutes for crews to get the fire under control, and they were on scene until about 11:15 p.m. Saturday, Love said.
The fire burned an entire side of the home, and Love said it appears to have started in a dog kennel area under the front porch roof.
James McCarthy said the family has been raising poodles as a hobby, and they were caring for a litter of nine puppies at the time of the fire. Eight of the puppies were killed, and one is fighting for its life at Paola Vet Clinic.
“Dr. Aaron has been amazing,” James said.
Love said the fire was accidental, but the exact cause is still under investigation by the Kansas Fire Marshal’s Office.
The damage was extensive, and Love said the home was a total loss due to fire, smoke and water. The family currently is staying at Paola Inn and Suites and receiving assistance from the American Red Cross and Miami County Cops for Tots.
Monetary donations to help either family are being collected at Parker Elementary and La Cygne City Hall. School officials said staff at Parker Elementary and the city of La Cygne also are working together to organize a community shower to help the families. Jerry McCarty is an employee of the city of La Cygne.
Nasalroad, who also serves as a school resource officer for Prairie View USD 362, has also been involved in helping out the families.
Laurie McCarthy posted on Facebook Saturday that her family is safe, and she has been amazed by the community support for her family.
“Thank you so much for all the calls and texts,” she wrote. “I feel like we haven’t been able to respond to all of them so I thought I would post this just to let everyone know that we are ALL ok. We weren’t home when the fire happened but it appears to be a total loss at this point. Everything is really overwhelming right now and I’m sorry if we haven’t responded but we are All safe!”
Jen, who works as an aide for Prairie View USD 362, said her family knows the McCarthy family, as they each have children in the same school and the McCarthys also drive bus routes for the school district. She also noted the oddness of the similarities in their names and the fact that the McCarthy family has triplet girls, while the McCarty family has twin girls.
“My heart goes out to them,” Jen said.