Victim in deadly Wichita house fire described as ‘lovable,’ ‘wonderful’

Bettie Clark Johnson

The Wichita Fire Department has confirmed an 82-year-old woman was found dead in her home after a fire.

The fire broke out in the 2300 block of North Burns around 8:30 a.m. A passerby reported the fire.

Fire crews went defensive on the fire, and they battled the blaze for several hours.

They found the victim after the fire in the back of the home. She has been identified as Bettie Clark Johnson according to her pastor. 

“She was there every Sunday. Been knowing her about 45 years and she’s just a lovable, wonderful person,” said Reverend Carl Kirkendoll with Bethany Missionary Baptist Church. “Her personality, how energetic she was, regardless the situation she always looked on the bright side. She could see a dark situation and see the good in it. She was that kind of optimistic person. Very positive.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.  Damage estimates are around $60 thousand.

Her church, friends and family say she will be missed for her music, friendship and outlook on life.

“Her smile. Her willingness to do whatever she could for people. She just had an open heart,” said Eralene Newhouse, who sang with her friend for years.

“Just her gift. Whatever she could share. That’s what she did,” said Dr. Marilyn Shaw, also a pastor and a friend. “She shared her love, she spread her love and she loved her children. She loved family. And she was… very stylish person and that’s what Wichita knew about Betty when she came into the door she always made a statement.”

Two firefighters were transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation or heat related issues. Multiple crews were rotated during the fire due to the heat. 

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