Victims identified in fatal Belleville trailer fire

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BELLEVILLE, Ill. – Two people died Monday after an early morning trailer fire in Belleville, Illinois.

The police and fire departments came to the home at around 12:25 a.m. Monday to find a trailer on fire at 21 S. 15th Street. There were two trailers and a home located on the property.

Sixty-seven-year-old James Bell and his friend, 55-year-old Michael Hangsleben, were found dead inside the mobile home.

The Belleville Fire Department said the fire started in the bedroom. Firefighters said the fire did not seem suspicious.

Neighbor Alicia Horton was devastated to hear the news.

“(Bell) had probably the best heart of anybody that I’ve ever met. The kindest, kindest person. Would give you the shirt off of his back,” she said. “He didn’t have a lot in life, but he had a good heart.”

Bell’s son said was the second time his family has been struck by tragedy recently.

He lost his brother, Daniel, who died in a crash less than two weeks ago when he hit a Pontoon Beach police officer. And now, he’s lost his father too.

“I knew it was really bothering him and all the neighbors were trying to support him and help him out any way they could just to let him know that people care,” Horton said.

Belleville Fire Chief Tom Pour said this was the first fatal fire in the city since 2015. He said there were no smoke detectors inside this home.

“Our last three fires this winter have been in homes where there have been no working or visible smoke detectors,” he said.

The Belleville Fire Department spent the day going door-to-door to check smoke detectors and install new ones for anyone that needs them.

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