ST. LOUIS — The extreme cold is known for bringing with it more fire calls. Vacant homes become places where some people rely on a fire to stay warm.
“You can’t sleep out here in the cold,” said north St. Louis resident Glenn Richie. “You’re really going to freeze to death.”
St. Louis firefighters responded to a vacant house fire on Richie’s block Sunday morning. He said some people were using an abandoned building on North 20th Street as a place to escape the cold.
Vacant house fires have produced deadly consequences. Three Baltimore firefighters were killed when a vacant row home collapsed Monday.
Earlier this month, St. Louis firefighter Benjamin Polson was killed after responding to a vacant house fire.
St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said some members of his department reviewed a video of the Baltimore tragedy Tuesday. He said they also studied dispatch records and a timeline of the tragedy.
The St. Louis Fire Department is also working on a plan to collect data about each of the thousands of vacant buildings. St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said the plan is to categorize each building in a way that creates a database that can be shared with first responders heading to a fire.
“We’ll be able to tell our members responding, this is a category one building which might be absolutely no entry,” he said.
Jenkerson said he greatly appreciates the amount of support his department has received in recent days. He called that support, “overwhelming”.