WORDEN, IL (KTVI) - Two Good Samaritans rushed into an apartment fire to rescue residents, but they couldn`t save one man.
The fire started at about 7 a.m. in the town of Worden, IL, which is about a 40 minute drive from from St. Louis, North of Edwardsville.
Michelle Latina was at a Doctor`s appointment when she saw the fire on the news. Her apartment appeared burned out. She pulled up and said, "I`m shocked. I really am. I look at Robbie`s apartment most and not mine, because I feel for his family.'
Rob Blotevogel did not make it out. He lived in the downstairs apartment where it appeared the fire started. Blotevogel was confined to a wheelchair because of an amputated leg.
Latina added, 'I just lost my mother a year ago, so I kind of understand what`s more important in life." She pointed to her upstairs apartment and said, "That`s just stuff up there," then she pointed down at Blotevogel's, "That was a life down there."
Blotevogel was a 45-year-old retired volunteer firefighter, who friends say was very proud of his service. Two Good Samaritans tried getting him out. The good samaritans were also both former firefighters who drove by, saw the fire and then broke out windows to pull people out.'
Worden's Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Steinmeyer added, "...because the hallway was so full of smoke they couldn`t get in."
Steinmeyer said the two men nearly evacuated everyone before the fire department arrived. He said, "Oh, I think it could`ve been a lot worse if they wouldn`t have been there and caught it originally and gotten people out of the building."
Friends gathered to remember Rob Blotevogel, who did not make it.
Vicki Rodriguez said, "I think he`s up there dancing on both legs now."
Katelyn Rodriguez added, "He always told us that wherever he goes, he wants us all to be happy and have a drink for him. Now he'd be mad that we're all crying and sad."
Michelle Shadwick said, "He doesn`t have to wake up and take pills every day to make him feel good. There`s no more worries. He`s where he wants to be, in the hands of God."
The IL State Fire Marshal, Madison County Coroner and Madison County Sheriff`s Office are investigating, though it's not believed to be criminal case, rather an accident. The two former firefighter, Good Samaritans are Lance Isbell and Brad Williams, who we`re told would be embarrassed to get any credit for their actions.