Fire chief remembers deadly fire at same Shawnee house decades later

By Sarah Hollenbeck
KSHB – May 16, 2015



Friday evening firefighters in Shawnee wrapped up their investigation and left the house where two people, including a 3-year-old boy, were killed in a fire .

Firefighters are expected to soon release the cause of the fire and explain why it was so hard for 3-year-old Christian Young and his Great Uncle Ronnie Walkup to get out of the house. They are two more lives lost after a fire 26 years ago took the life of a 4 1/2-year-old boy in the same house.

Three family members were hospitalized after Thursday’s fire. Only the family’s 91-year-old great-grandmother remains in the hospital in serious condition from smoke inhalation.

Thursday’s fire happened decades after the family lost another little boy in a fire in the same house.

Mike Whim was one of the firefighters who rushed into the burning house 26 years ago looking for a 4 1/2-year-old boy named Cody Young. Cody would go on to change the course of Whim’s career.

September 22, 1989 is a day still fresh in Whim’s mind.

Cody Young was trapped inside his room.

Whim found him, tucked in his bed.

He scooped him up and rushed outside to a cheering crowd, but Cody wasn’t breathing.

“That’s supposed to be one of those moments that is supposed to be a good thing, and it just broke my heart,” Whim said.

Whim is now the fire chief at the Northwest Consolidated Fire District in De Soto, Kan.

Although it’s been 26 years, Whim said Cody has stayed with him.

“Any time you say the name Cody to me, it’s very special. He’s been an angel to me,” Whim explained choking back tears.

Thursday’s fire brought those memories flooding back.

“When I heard the call, I’m wondering, ‘No that can’t be the same house,’ and then I found out it was not only the same house but the same family. Oh to have the same tragedy not once but twice,” he tearfully said.

He also struggles with knowing Shawnee firefighters are facing fears Whim still deals with today.

“You question every ounce of every second you use to get there and to try to save someone. Could I have done something different and those people would still be alive?”

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