EDEN, IL (KTVI)– Two disabled brothers died in a New Year`s Day house fire in the small community of Eden, Illinois, just east of the city of Sparta.
Three departments were called in to fight the blaze but it spread so fast no one could get to the two brothers sleeping in the back first floor bedroom.
“I haven`t come to full terms with what happened yet but it is just horrible,” said Thad Monroe, the victims` uncle.
It`s believed the fire started in the basement of the house in the 8500 block of Valley Steel road at about 12:30 P.M. New Year`s day.
The family had been out late the night before ringing in the 2013 at their church, so everyone was sleeping in, including Dennis Monroe, 45, and Willie Monroe, 42, who shared a bedroom and both used wheelchairs to get around.
The Monroe`s lived with another brother, Demeatrius Lowery, and his wife and son.
“Demeatrius noticed the reflection (of flames) on the front of the TV and that`s when they knew the house was in serious condition,” said Randy Dudenbostel, Randolph County Coroner.
Lowery quickly woke his wife and teenage son who were sleeping on the second floor and then headed for the first floor to help Dennis and Willie, but he couldn`t.
“He tried to go back in numerous times to rescue his brothers but the heat and the smoke was too rigorous for him to tackle to make that rescue,” Dudenbostel said.
The Monroe`s have a lot of family in Sparta, so they have always had lots of shoulders to cry on, but now they have two fewer, and its breaking their hearts.
“We were just saying the other night how we all made it through to the New Year, and then the next morning we heard this,” Monroe said. “It is tragic news.”
The Illinois State Fire Marshall is investigating, and while there is not yet an official cause, it`s suspected the family`s wood burning furnace in the basement malfunctioned.