Family loses everything but escapes fire just in time


NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Eugene Presley says his family is lucky to be alive after escaping a fire started by a space heater.  Presley rents a home on Ebert Dr. in north St. Louis County.  The fire started Saturday night in a back room of the house.

“I consider myself blessed to be alive,” he said Sunday morning.

Fire crews from Black Jack, Ferguson and Florissant Valley were back at the house Sunday morning after Presley discovered more smoke coming from the home.  Fire crews say a space heater caused the initial fire.

Everything inside the home appeared to be a loss.  Presley said he recently let his renters’ insurance lapse and has now lost everything.

“It just so happened my daughter smelled the smoke,” he said.  “If she hadn’t smelled the smoke we probably would have got killed in there.”

Presley uses a space heater to keep a back room warm and unplugs the space heater when he goes to bed.  When he ran to investigate his daughter’s report of smoke he said a couch next to the space heater caught fire.

“The smoke was taking me over.  I just got down low and got out,” he said.

Safety experts say it’s important to keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that could catch fire.

Presley said, “Even when you think you’re being safe by unplugging them, something can happen before you can unplug it.”

Presley said he’s received some temporary help from the American Red Cross but is not sure how he’ll replace what was lost.