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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – It’s a local story that made national headlines that rocked the Metro East community after five children under the age of 10 died in an apartment fire in August. FOX 2 crews caught up with the landlord of the apartment building who is speaking out for the first time about the tragedy.

“The bottom line is she left her babies at home with something burning and set the building on fire,” Rudy Mcintosh said.

Mcintosh retired from the East St Louis Police Department in 2019 after 24 years. He owns the apartment building where the five children died on 29th Street in East St Louis.

Investigators say the children were home alone in the Aug. 6th fire.

On Thursday, Mcintosh was making repairs to the apartment building.

“I don’t know what she told the investigators, but she told me she left a candle burning and the kids set the apartment on fire. That’s what she said to me,” Mcintosh said.
Due to the investigation, the East St. Louis Fire Chief could not confirm if a candle was left burning.

On Wednesday, the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office charged the children’s mother, Sabrina M. Dunigan, 34, nearly three months after the deadly fire. 

Dunigan now facing five counts of endangering the life or health of a child. 

“They are wondering why were there five kids. I have no idea. Her lease shows two kids; that’s all we ever seen. Where the other three came from, we have no idea.” Mcintosh said.  

Mcintosh says the family had survived another fire at one of his Shiloh properties in 2019.

“When COVID hit, we had no choice but to put them here. On that day of the fire, everyone had assumed there were no smoke detectors and that the building was in disarray, that was not the case,” Mcintosh said.

“My heart goes out to those kids. We got kids and grandkids, but yes we are hurting. At the end of the day, the evidence speaks for its self. The building had nothing to do with what happened to them babies. That was the mother’s fault at the end of the day. She should have been at home with her kids.” 

Several family members of Dunigan say they believe she has suffered enough by losing all of her children and hope prosecutors will take that into consideration as they move through the criminal proceedings.