Metro-East News

Two good Samaritans. Two homes saved from burning down.

News-Democrat

Metro-east man puts out grease fire in neighbors' house

Jeff Blackard talks about putting out a grease fire in his Belleville neighbors' house. Blackard and two residents in the home were checked by paramedics for smoke inhalation but declined to take an ambulance to the hospital.
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Jeff Blackard talks about putting out a grease fire in his Belleville neighbors' house. Blackard and two residents in the home were checked by paramedics for smoke inhalation but declined to take an ambulance to the hospital.

Two Belleville men jumped into action Thursday to put out fires at their neighbors’ homes.

One grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to his neighbor’s kitchen where he put out a grease fire and another man used a garden hose to control a van fire on his neighbor’s driveway. No injuries were reported in either fire.

Their willingness to help neighbors caught the attention of Assistant Fire Chief J.P. Penet, who credits the two men with saving their neighbors’ homes and called them “good Samaritans.”

“That’s just what people do,” said Jeff Blackard, who used an extinguisher to stop the fire in his neighbor’s kitchen. “You help each other.”

Blackard was at home when the daughter of his neighbor ran over and asked for help about 2:25 p.m.

“It wasn’t that big of a fire, just lots of smoke,” Blackard said. “It makes me feel good to help my neighbors out. Thank God nobody got hurt.”

That’s just what people do. You help each other.

Jeff Blackard, who used an extinguisher to put out a grease fire at his neighbor’s house

Blackard and two residents in the home at 420 S. 21st St. were checked by paramedics for smoke inhalation but declined to take an ambulance to the hospital.

Kenrica Borders said her daughter was cooking with grease when the fire quickly started.

Penet said the home was filled with smoke when firefighters arrived.

The fire served as good reminder for residents to keep a fire extinguisher in their kitchen, Penet said. He also recommends you keep a lid nearby when cooking with oil and to put the lid on the pot if it flames up.

Fire Chief Tom Pour said Borders’ home had smoke damage but that Borders and her family would be able to still live in the home. He said the stove and kitchen cabinets were destroyed.

On Thursday morning, a van parked at a Belleville home caught fire after a man said he was putting air in a flat tire.

It looks like he saved my house.

Jermaine Reid, whose neighbor used a garden hose to control a van fire at his house

Jermaine Reid said he was using a portable air compressor on the front passenger tire of his 2009 Chevrolet Traverse before the fire happened about 10:20 a.m. The van was parked on his driveway in the 200 block of Willow Creek Drive.

He said he left it unattended for less than 10 minutes to run errands. While he was gone, he said he got a call from his wife. The van had caught fire.

Reid said a neighbor saw the van smoking. Belleville firefighters said the neighbor grabbed a hose to keep the fire in check while waiting for the fire department.

“It looks like he saved my house,” Reid said.

The air compressor appeared to have malfunctioned, Reid said. Firefighters later confirmed that the device had overheated, causing the fire.

The fire damaged the front passenger side of the vehicle.

No one was injured, and Reid’s home was not damaged.

In reviewing how residents helped their neighbors on Thursday, Penet said, “Do what you can but keep yourself safe, that would be our advice for neighbors.”

Mike Koziatek: 618-239-2502, @MikeKoziatekBND

Kaitlyn Schwers: 618-239-2526, @kaitlynschwers

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