Grandmother says having firefighters could have made a difference

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WASHINGTON PARK, IL (KTVI) - A Washington Park, IL grandmother, her daughter and four grandchildren escaped a house fire last week, but lost everything they owned.  The daughter and one of the grandchildren suffered 2nd degree burns.  Linda Holley and her neighbors believe a quicker response by firefighters could have made a difference.

“I want people to know that we need firefighters,” said Holley.  “By the Grace of God, I’m still here.”

The fire at her house on North 51st St was the same morning a former strip club building caught fire.  Neighbors say they waited for what seemed like a long time before firefighters arrived.

“I lost everything,” said Holley.  “Why weren’t they here?”

The former strip club building fire rekindled Monday.  We talked with one man who called 911 when he saw smoke coming from the rubble.  He said he was told no one would respond unless flames were visible.

“They should come douse it, and make sure it does not erupt again,” said Huwemona Griffin.

Griffin called 911 a second time after seeing flames.  Firefighters responded.  The Washington Park Fire Chief says there’s not enough money for the city to staff a paid fire department.

“It’s an all-volunteer fire department,” said Chief Charles Schreiber.  “The engine house is not manned 24 hours a day.”

Holley is staying at a hotel thanks to the American Red Cross.  She is also receiving help from friends.  Friends have set up a gofundme account for the family.