ST. LOUIS – A woman was rescued and a firefighter hurt in a vacant house fire in north St. Louis. Authorities suspect a homeless person was trying to keep warm and the house caught fire.
First responders said the area growing homeless population is often forced to deploy dangerous strategies to staying warm and they’re preparing for what might be another dangerous winter.
Dorothy Boone woke up Wednesday morning to the smell of smoke and saw flames.
She noticed a woman inside a vacant home next door waving for help.
“She was trying to get to the first floor but she could not get out. The flames were all over,” she said.
The St. Louis Fire Department responded to the fire in the 5200 block of Theodosia Avenue in the Kingsway West neighborhood.
Firefighters said they saw thick, black smoke for miles and flames were coming from the two-story building. First responders rescued the woman from the burning building. One firefighter suffered minor burn injuries after part of the ceiling gave way.
Both the woman rescued and the injured firefighter will be okay.
“We learned right away a woman was trapped by fire and she was waving her arms to try and get our attention. We got a ladder and got her down to safety,” said Fire Captain Garon Mosby.
Homeless people were reportedly living in the vacant property trying to keep warm. With a freeze warning issued for Thursday morning, homeless men and women face a tough decision on whether or not to seek shelter.
“This was a vacant building. This was perhaps a warming fire. We are getting into that time of year where temps drop and folks do what they can to stay warm,” Mosby said.
Firefighters also reminding residents to change the batteries in their smoke detectors when they turn their clocks back on November 3. Working smoke detectors reduce the risk of death in a house fire by 60 percent.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.