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Octagenarian’s truck bursts into flames

Staff writer

Octogenarian Gary Loveless of Marion was working on a pickup in the 300 block of Commercial St. when it burst into flames Monday afternoon.

Loveless was severely burned and was taken by ambulance to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita for treatment.

By the time Marion Fire Chief Chris Killough arrived, however, Loveless somehow had moved the burning pickup out of a garage. It was a total loss.

Fire spread to rafters of the garage, Killough said.

“There was a pretty good fire up in there,” he said.

Firefighters also extinguished a burning boat.

“There was a boat inside the garage, and it caught on fire,” Killough said.

Killough characterized damage to the boat as “significant, but not major.”

“We were there at least a half hour, to make sure everything was OK,” Killough said.

Before leaving the scene, firefighters lowered the garage door to secure the building but warned Gary’s wife, Paula Loveless, to be careful when the garage door was opened again.

“The garage is secure now, but to operate it now might be difficult,” he said.

Neighbor Autumn Hanson, who operates a pet grooming and boarding shop half a block away on Forest St., walked to the Loveless house to pick up the family dog so Paula Loveless could go to Wichita to be with her husband.

Hanson described Loveless as a good neighbor who routinely mowed grass and trimmed trees in the ditches of city right-of-way along Commercial and Forest Sts. east of 3rd St. because the city doesn’t maintain the area.

“He doesn’t want someone to have a wreck at the corner of Commercial and Forest,” she said.

Neighbors in the area look after each other, she said.

Hanson has kept an eye on traffic in the neighborhood to watch for people who might try to enter the property, but the only people she has seen drive by did so during the fire.

The Record was unable to find out how Loveless was faring after the fire. His wife did not return a call after a message was left for her.

Last modified March 13, 2024

 

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