BELLEVILLE, Ill. — A family of 12, escaped a devastating house fire in Belleville Tuesday morning. The fire started around 6:45 a.m. Tuesday at a home located in the 8900 block of Highway 163. The home was fully engulfed in flames, and explosions were reported coming from the scene.
“As I came home, the daycare lady said she heard a really loud boom, and my kids said they heard a boom,” said Pamela R. Hill who lives nearby.
Multiple crews responded to the second-alarm fire as Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX captured the dramatic scene from above.
Decades of family memories inside the home vanished within minutes.
A preliminary investigation, conducted by the Millstadt Fire Department, found that the fire started in the front corner of the house. The Illinois State Fire Marshal deemed the cause of the fire as suspicious.
The homeowner and the rest of her family are now displaced looking for a place to live. Twelve family members lived at the house, four of them minors, including a baby.
“It was scary because they said the house was on fire, but I didn’t see anything,” said the homeowner’s daughter-in-law Kenna Haas. “So, I didn’t know what was going on. I ran outside, and as soon as I got outside, the truck that was on fire just exploded.”
Everyone inside the house made it out safely, and no one was taken to the hospital. However, several of them were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.
“You know, I have an 8-month-old granddaughter that was in that home,” homeowner Shannon Rackhaus said. “They didn’t think about who was in that home. They just wanted revenge.”
“I lost my home. I lost 20 years of investments. Everything I owned was in that home, and we are starting from zero,” said Rackhaus. “They will get caught up too, and whenever they do, they will have to pay for the price that they chose.”
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation by the Illinois State Fire Marshal.
A GoFundMe has since been started to assist the family.