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Fire proves fatal to mother of R-3 Teacher

By Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

A fire last week destroyed a home in Parkville and also took the life of an 86-year-old Parkville resident.

The home at 6704 Monticello Terrace is owned by John and Susan Vanchina.

Susan's mother, Patricia C. Wolcott, 86, died in the blaze around 3:30 a.m. last Wednesday morning. Susan is a French instructor at Platte County R-3 High School in Platte City.

According to Dean Cole, fire marshal for the Southern Platte Fire Protection District (SPFPD), the fire started on the home's screened-in back deck and later spread into the home.

Cole said that John Vanchina had fallen asleep in the home's basement when he was awaken by a noise and came upstairs to see a “wall of fire” outside on the back deck. He then went to wake up his wife, daughter and mother-in-law.

According to Cole, when he woke up his wife, she attempted to dial 911, but the fire had already burned through the telephone wire at the back of the home. As the family was leaving through the front door of the home the windows on the back of the house broke letting the fire into the kitchen area.

Cole said the first fire alarm did not go off until the family had cleared the front door. The family did have an alarm system that transmitted the fire to the alarm company via a radio transmitter. The alarm company then called the fire department.

“The only thing that would have stopped this fire would be residential fire sprinklers,” said Cole.

When the family cleared the front door they realized the mother-in-law was not with them.

Kansas City and SPFPD firefighters responded to the call. There were 30 firemen on the scene with six pumpers, two ladder trucks and two battalion chiefs.

It took the firefighters between 30 and 40 minutes to control the blaze. The fire was hot enough that the paint on the home next door began to bubble and when the firefighters doused the home with water to cool it down the windows cracked.

The wind on Wednesday morning also caused some embers to light a wood shake roof three doors down on fire.

Firefighters investigating the scene afterward found the body of Wolcott about 15 feet from the front door.

Damage to the home is estimated around $400,000 with another $150,000 of damage to the home's contents.




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