UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. – A University City family of 12 is homeless after a fire destroyed their house Tuesday.
Investigators determined the fire began after a child placed a piece of paper on a lit stove.
When the University City Fire Department arrived in the 6500 block of Etzel Avenue on Tuesday, the home was engulfed in flames, which had spread to neighboring vacant homes on either side.
Neighbors want to help the victims.
“With my organization Elevate the Good, I do outreach, and we house individuals and families in these situations … Knowing that, I want to reach out to them and help with housing, shoes, food, whatever they need,” said Carla Yvette Palmer.
Joseph Hester, whose family owns one of the vacant home, said the property has been in his family for generations. They were in the process of renovating the residence at the time of the fire.
“It’s very depressing right now. I was thinking about this all night. I could not sleep me and my cousin, like, all the memories we had,” he said. “We were fixing it up and now we have to start over.”
The fire department said a couple and their 10 children lived in the ruined home. The children range in age from 4 months to 14 years. They all escaped. However, six of the children had to be hospitalized with minor injuries. Authorities previously said only one child needed additional medical treatment.
That child, the infant, remains under medical care for smoke inhalation.
Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, said the family lost everything, adding that the Red Cross will assist the family and help ensure “they have a place to stay, resources, food and water, clothing, medication, everything lost in the fire, and to give help right away.”
Authorities are asking parents to speak with their children about the dangers of playing with fire to prevent similar incidents in the future.