Cause of fatal Fairview Heights fire could remain a mystery

News-DemocratJanuary 30, 2014 

AP GRAPHICS

— Fire investigators have not determined the cause of a fire in early January that claimed the life of a 68-year-old woman because of the extensive damage to the woman's mobile home in the 300 block of Union Hill Road.

Neither the Fairview Fire Department nor the Illinois State Fire Marshal's office could determine the source of the Jan. 5 fire that killed Georgette L. Warren, a former News-Democrat advertising employee.

After talking to Warren's family members, "I don't know that we'll ever be able to say if it was definitely a space heater, if it definitely was a computer, if it definitely was this or that," said Bryan Doyle, the Fairview Fire Department chief.

"Unfortunately there are times when we don't ever really find out what caused the fire," Doyle said.

Investigators don't believe the fire's cause is suspicious, Doyle said. He also said they did not find any evidence of smoke detectors in the home.

The fire broke out at about 4:35 p.m., in the midst of a heavy snow storm. As a result, the steep road leading to Warren's mobile home was buried under deep snow and ice, making it virtually impassable.

Firefighters pulled 800 feet of 2-and-a-half-inch hose up to the house only to find the fire hydrant nearest it was broken.

A Swansea Fire Department truck, answering a mutual aid call, showed up soon afterward. It relayed water from a nearby, operational hydrant to the Fairview Heights truck. But by then Warren's mobile home had been fully engulfed in flame.

Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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