ALTON, IL — A devastating house fire last week, during which firefighters rescued a girl from a basement with barred windows, started from an untended pot of grease on the hot stove.
The flames, though, rapidly fed on oxygen traveling through the 704-square-foot frame home at 609 Marsh Ave., on July 18. Its five, first-floor occupants had fled outside, leaving the front and rear doors open, said Chief Bernie Sebold of the Alton Fire Department.
“The origin was determined to be the top of the stove; the cause of fire was the pot of grease left on the stove for cooking chicken,” Sebold said, results of a cause and origin team of investigators from the Fire and Police departments.
Sebold, though, said leaving the doors open allowed the wind to “whip through the house,” with the oxygen feeding the flames so they grew rapidly.
The fire appeared to have come out of the front of the roughly 71-year-old building, where there was major damage. Heavy flames were emanating from the front door and adjacent five windows when firefighters arrived.
As most of the firefighters attacked the blaze, Capt. Daniel Whiteside and firefighter Ben Taylor kicked out a glass basement window and its bars. Whiteside entered the basement and helped a 13-year-old girl through the window to safety. The girl had been trapped inside as flames above her consumed the small rental home.
The girl then walked from the burning structure without assistance to safety down the street. Paramedics there examined her for any injuries.
“The guys did a really good job of attacking the fire so the firefighters could save the girl,” Sebold said.
A neighbor reportedly called 911 at about 4:08 p.m. to report the fire, saying a child was unable to get out of the basement and the windows had security bars.
The report of a child trapped in the basement also brought numerous Alton police officers, including detectives, to the fire.
Firefighters from the East Alton Fire Department had responded at the outset because of the departments’ Mutual Aid Box Alarm agreement for them to come to working structure fires in each others’ towns. Deputy Fire Chief Mark Harris had to call in several off-duty Alton firefighters to assist.
Sebold said the fire was similar to another one on Gold Street, also caused by a pan left cooking on a stove and fed by an open door, in April 2016.
Records at the Alton Township Assessor’s Office list owner of the Marsh Avenue house as HPIL LLC.
This is how many blacks get fat: cooking chicken with lard or grease. Use olive oil or vegetable oil instead.
ALTON, IL — Firefighters broke through a barred basement window Tuesday to rescue a teenage girl trapped inside as flames above her consumed the small, East End frame house.
“They busted the glass and pushed the bars into the house,” said Deputy Chief Mark Harris, of the Alton Fire Department, regarding the firefighters who broke through a basement window in the burning home at 609 Marsh Ave.
“We arrived on the scene to find the house was on fire, mostly in the front,” Harris said. “There was a report of a child trapped inside with bars on the basement windows. While the crew attacked the fire, Capt. (Daniel) Whiteside and firefighter (Ben) Taylor made entry through a basement window on the south side of the building. Capt. Whiteside was able to enter the building, got the girl from the front bedroom and got her to the window.”
Firefighters helped the 13-year-old girl up through the window to the outside. She walked from the burning structure without assistance to safety down the street. Paramedics there examined her for any injuries. She was not transported to a hospital at that time.
“I am very proud of our firefighters and police, they did a hell of a job getting that girl out,” Harris said. Police had prevented a man from going inside the burning home and getting injured in his attempt to save the girl, as well as setting up a perimeter to keep out traffic and reserve space for emergency responder vehicles.
“It was a good effort,” Harris said.
A neighbor reportedly called 911 at about 4:08 p.m. to report the fire, saying a child was unable to get out of the basement and the windows had security bars. An undetermined number of other occupants, including children, already had escaped from the house.
The report of a child trapped in the basement also brought numerous Alton police officers, including detectives, to the fire. Two of the Alton officers and a law enforcement officer from the Major Case Squad tackled, then briefly handcuffed the man who had tried to run back into the home to save the girl.
“We were trying to save his life,” said Capt. Scott Golike, of the Alton Police Department. That man later went to a hospital via Alton Memorial Ambulance Service to be checked out.
Capt. Jeffrey Knipp, of the Alton Fire Department, was treated on the scene briefly for effects of heat from the fire, combined with the afternoon temperature in the 90s. He soon went back to his duties.
Police escorted a woman, who a neighbor said lives at the house, from the scene to interview her about the fire, returning her to Marsh Avenue about an hour later. People who had escaped the fire were sitting and lying on a small hill next to the street, across Marsh and several houses south of the fire.
“I’m having an asthma attack,” one man moaned, but did not leave the area for medical attention.
A young woman, who lives at the house where the group was gathering outside, made trips back and forth from inside her home to offer the neighbors frozen treats and bottled water. Declining to give her name, she said she does not know the people displaced by the fire, but wanted to help them.
“Of course,” she said. “They are people. It doesn’t matter if I know them, they are people.”
Cause of the fire remained under investigation, with the one-story home suffering extensive damage. Heat from the flames melted siding on the next-door house to the north.
Harris had to call in several off-duty firefighters to assist, who arrived at Marsh about 5:35 p.m. Firefighters from the East Alton Fire Department had responded at the outset because of the departments’ Mutual Aid Box Alarm agreement for them to come to working structure fires in each others’ towns.