Wildwood family loses home in Christmas Eve fire

WILDWOOD, MO (KTVI) – A Wildwood family has lost their home after a Christmas Eve fire, Tuesday morning, which was visible for miles.  Investigators say ashes cleaned out of the family fireplace were stored in the garage, and likely ignited the fire.

It was about 11am when the call went out from Wynncrest Manor Drive, off Clayton Rd.  Neighbors say there was a cleaning crew inside the $800 thousand home who first noticed a problem.  Soon flames were pouring out of the garage.

Mary Sabacool, who lives next door, was first alerted by her daughter.

“She screamed and I didn’t pay attention because kids sometimes scream and she said, ‘Fire.’  We ran out and we saw black smoke and flames billowing out from the garage window.”

Then, she says, it got worse.

“Windows started popping and we heard some pops from inside and that’s when I got the kids out of the house and got the dog away from that side of the house and we exited the house and we called 911 and called the homeowner who was out of town.”

The resident had gone to a relative’s home to celebrate the holiday.  But before leaving, investigators say they cleaned out the fireplace and stored the ashes in the garage.  Those ashes apparently were not fully extinguished, and that caused the fire.

“We often tell people if it’s necessary to clean it out, put them in a metal container and put them outside the home,” Metro West Fire Chief Vince Loyal said. “That’s the best thing to do because you never know when they’re completely out. This time of year when we get garage fires that’s often the cause of the fire.”

One firefighter was hospitalized, experiencing shortness of breath as he fought the flames.  He is expected to be fine.

Meanwhile neighbors worry about the family of five who has lost their home on Christmas Eve.

“My heart is broken for them,” Sabacool said.  “Such a good family and I’m grateful they’re safe, but what a horrible thing to happen.”