Police identify 5-year-old who died in ‘suspicious’ Alton apartment fire


ALTON, Ill. — Authorities have identified the 5-year-old boy who died in an apartment fire in Alton, Illinois, just days before Thanksgiving.

Malachi Scruggs, 5, was inside the apartment building on Mitchell Street when the fire broke out around 7:20 p.m. Monday.

Alton Fire Chief Jesse Jemison said the boy’s mother and her boyfriend were also inside the apartment at the time. Due to the intensity of the flames, they could not get upstairs to rescue the boy. Authorities called the fire “suspicious.”

Mariah Hebert, who lives nearby, said little Malachi will be greatly missed.

“Everyone was trying to run inside and save that little boy,” said Hebert. “My heart goes out to the family. Everyone was trying to save the little boy. It was too late.”

While extinguishing the flames, Alton firefighters found the boy inside the apartment.

“It hit us pretty hard. We are all fathers or grandparents,” said Jemison. “When it comes to children, it brings it close to home for everyone.”

Malachi was taken to an area hospital, where he later died. His death has left a major impact on the community during the holiday season.

“I wish it would not have happened like this,” said neighbor Rodonia Singleton. “With Thanksgiving just days away, the family won’t look at the holidays the same again.”

Authorities said the apartment had smoke detectors, but it’s unclear whether they were working. The Alton Fire Department and the Illinois State Fire Marshall are still investigating the cause of the fire.

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