EAST ALTON, Ill. – The Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office charged a 68-year-old woman Thursday in connection with a fatal fire at an East Alton storage facility.
Firefighters and police in East Alton responded to a report of a fire just after 1:10 a.m. on Tusday, Feb. 21, at the STOR-ALL facility in the 600 block of West St. Louis Avenue.
It took nearly an hour for firefighters to extinguish the blaze. Once the fire was put out, a man’s body was found on the floor of one of the units.
The Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis was activated to assist in the investigation, after police determined there were suspicious circumstances regarding the fire
The victim identified as James Huch. He was 55.
Investigators determined Huch had been homeless prior to his death, and tracked his movements leading up to the fire. They discovered Huch had been dropped off at the storage facility after midnight on Feb. 21.
Authorities from multiple jurisdictions, including the State Fire Marshall and Illinois State Police, helped determine Huch’s death was not criminal in nature and the fire was accidental.
However, police did arrest Paula Vinyard, or Carrollton, Illinois, who is a known associate of Huch.
Police claim she lied to investigators and gave them conflicting information.
The county prosecutor charged Vinyard with one count of obstruction of justice. She remains jailed on a $30,000 bond.