A Belleville family of five escaped unharmed but their home was severely damaged by a fire Friday.
The fire started on the back porch of a bungalow-style home at 934 E. Main St. at 11:25 a.m., Fire Chief Tom Pour said.
“The official cause of the fire is undetermined, however one thing that we cannot rule out is careless discarding of smoking materials,” Pour said.
The fire caused heavy damage to the rear portion of the house. Other interior areas have heat and smoke damage.
Pour said the fire also got above the ceiling into the home’s open attic area, destroying between a half and three-quarters of the roof. He said it’s up to the family and their insurance company to decide whether to save the house or demolish it.
The five residents got out of the home safely and were not injured. The Red Cross was assisting the family with essentials like food, clothing and temporary shelter.
East Main Street was blocked off from the United Methodist Church to Mueller Furniture while firefighters worked at the scene.
Helen Whicher, a neighbor to the rear of house, said she walked outside to empty her cat’s litter box and noticed the fire.
“The whole porch was on fire,” she said. “I yelled to my husband, ‘Bill, you better call 911!”
The fire was strong enough to melt siding on a next-door house about 25 feet away.