All but a handful of residents in and around west Belleville have had their power restored after an overnight wind storm Sunday left more than 2,500 people without electricity as the temperature sank.
The high winds from the Sunday night storm also toppled the steeple of Leclaire Christian Church in Edwardsville.
Church leaders could not be immediately reached for comment on the churchs dislodged steeple.
The extremely cold weather has prompted the state to open warming centers across Illinois.
Locally, they include Madison County centers at 606 W. St. Louis Ave. in East Alton and 1925 Madison Ave. in Granite City. In St. Clair County there are two shelters, both in East St. Louis. One is at 225 N. 9th St. and the other at 601 James R. Thompson Blvd. Building E.
The warming centers are open from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Residents of the Ogles subdivision in west Belleville said Sunday night that lines were down across the neighborhood between Frank Scott Parkway on its east side and South 74th Street on its west side.
Wind gusts of up to 50 mph, which ushered in bitterly cold weather Sunday night, caused transformers in the area to blow and power lines to snap. At the height of the wind storm, at about 10 p.m., Ameren reported that about 2,500 customers in west Belleville, Swansea, Fairview Heights and the surrounding area were without electricity.
Downed wires were blamed for a brush fire that started on Oliver Lee Drive in Belleville. Trees were blown down along 17th Street on Belleville's border with Swansea and in the Stone Wolf subdivision in Fairview Heights.
Amanda Votrian said she was sitting in her house at the corner of Werner and Oliver Lee drives when there was a flash she could see through the blinds.
'It was a blue and green light," Votrian said. "I opened up the blinds to see it flash again and then the fire went down the line and caught the grass and brush on fire."
Neighbors sprayed the flames with their hoses and another used a shovel to try to put out the blaze before the fire department could get there to make sure it was extinguished.
According to Ameren's outage map, 95 customers in the Ogles subdivision were without power as of 6:30 a.m. A handful of customers were also without power in Swansea, southern Fairview Heights and unincorporated Belleville along Illinois 158.