A rapid response by Maryville Public Safety firefighters transformed potential tragedy into a minor incident late Friday morning at a central Maryville residence housing a daycare center.
Firefighters responded to a call just after 11 a.m. at 416 E. Jenkins St. and arrived to find a small portion of house's exterior ablaze near the front door.
The fire was extinguished within seconds with minor damage to the outside of the structure only, though enough smoke got inside to set off wall-mounted detectors.
A daycare center operated in an addition at the rear of the house was not affected by the fire, and the nine children and two adults inside at the time of the fire were unaware that anything was wrong until they heard sirens.
When daycare operator Kirsty Kicksey realized what was happening, she evacuated the youngsters, including her own two children, through a door at the rear of the structure. All 11 people were able to take refuge at a neighbor's house. There were no injuries.
Kicksey told MPS fire division supervisor Phil Rickabugh she inadvertently started the fire by throwing a cigarette butt into an outside flower pot filled with potting soil. Some brands of potting soil contain peat moss, which can catch fire under the right conditions.
Rickabaugh said a neighbor across the street realized the house was on fire and called 911.
A crew from Kansas City Power & Light was dispatched to the scene but did not have to shut off electricity at the house, which remained habitable.
Kicksey and her husband, Noel, rent the house from owners Jane and Mike McGary. Noel Kicksey was at work when the blaze occurred.