EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – An overnight fire starts at a vacant home in East St. Louis, but then it spreads to an occupied home, forcing two women, including one in a wheelchair, to get out of the house.
Fortunately, both women were able to escape okay. No firefighters were hurt either. As a result, there were no injuries in the fire. However, the flames did a lot of damage. It all unfolded on 22nd St. and Henrietta, not far from State Street in East St. Louis.
Firefighters got the call about 4:40 a.m. Friday. The intensity of the fire was too much for fire crews to keep it from spreading from the vacant home to the longtime home of the Vaughn family.
75-year-old Helen Vaughn, who uses a wheelchair, lived there along with her two adult children. Her daughter Khali was home with her when this all happened. The fire alarm in the house woke up Khali.
She realized what was happening and immediately all of her efforts turned to getting her wheelchair-bound mom out of the house.
“I see the fire in the front,” Khali Vaughn said. “I see the glare of the fire through my back window. It wasn’t quite all the way through the back yet; it was more on the front side. And then when I got down there, that’s my first thing: ‘get mama out, get mama out,’ because she can’t walk. As soon as we got to the door, she got to the first step; that’s when the fire started to creep to the back.”
We’re told the Housing Authority Police from the East St. Louis Police Department helped Khali get her mom out of the house.
Derrick Burns, the Chief of the East St. Louis Fire Department, told FOX 2 that the original fire in the vacant home is suspicious in nature. He revealed that there were a couple of other fires Thursday night on the next street over, so there is an investigation underway to see if there might be some kind of foul play at work in that area.
FOX 2 will update this story with more information as it becomes available.