Shawnee firefighter John Glaser rushed into a burning house Saturday night, ready to save the lives of two people who he was told might be inside.
The house was empty. But before anyone knew that, Glaser became separated from his team as firefighters felt their way blind through smoke-filled rooms.
He called for help. Other firefighters found him unconscious near the rear of the first floor seven or eight minutes later. He was pronounced dead at Shawnee Mission Medical Center.
The 33-year-old Olathe man is the first Shawnee firefighter to die in the line of duty. He leaves a wife and two children.
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"We will risk a lot to save a life," Fire Chief Jeff Hudson said Sunday.
Glaser, a six-year veteran of the Shawnee Fire Department, was among the firefighters who answered the call in the 13400 block of West 75th Court about 9 p.m. Saturday. Neighbors told them that two people and a dog might be inside.
Heavy smoke in the house had dropped visibility to zero, Hudson said. As firefighters worked their way by feel to see if anyone was trapped, the scene commander radioed that a firefighter was missing from his team.
Hudson said Sunday it wasn't clear how Glaser got separated from other firefighters, how he died or how the fire started.
"We're trying to get answers to those questions," the chief said.
"Our deepest sympathies go out to firefighter Glaser's family," Hudson said. "He was a nice guy and he wanted to help people. He was a good friend, a good family member and a great dad."
The chief said Glaser was proud of his two young children and often talked about them.
Hudson said a counseling team was on hand to assist Shawnee firefighters as they returned from the fire.
"They spent quite a lot of time together last night talking about what they went through and sharing about John," he said Sunday.