Metro-East News

They were on their way to watch the Blues game. They ended up saving a woman’s life.

Tammy Atwood talks about Collinsville house fire

Tammy Atwood, of Collinsville, IL in southern Illinois near St. Louis, MO, talks about escaping her home during the March 3 fire.
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Tammy Atwood, of Collinsville, IL in southern Illinois near St. Louis, MO, talks about escaping her home during the March 3 fire.

Twenty-year-olds Jared Grzywacz and Collin Fenton were on their way to watch Friday night’s St. Louis Blues game on TV when they drove past a house on fire and saw a family trying to escape through a window.

And just like that, they were carrying 88-year-old Margaret Roso — who is unable to walk — out from the window and to safety.

“You can’t just drive by and not do anything,” Fenton said as crews extinguished the fire. “... It is weird; this is a way we don’t normally take to (Grzywacz’s) brother’s house.”

The two men said they saw the South Hesperia Street house’s porch in flames and smoke pouring from the home.

“It makes you think — what if it were you?” Grzywacz said. “They lost a lot. I just think of all that I could lose.”

Firefighters in Collinsville, IL are fighting a house fire on South Hesperia Street in the southern Illinois city near St. Louis, MO.

The flames ignited about 7:40 p.m., just as resident Tammy Atwood ran outside to grab something from her friend’s car. She said by the time she walked back up to her home, her boyfriend James Lawrence and a friend were flying down the stairs inside.

“When they opened up the door there were so much flames. ... I couldn’t have saved my cats — I would have died,” Atwood said as she cried. “... I had to close my eyes. I couldn’t breathe.”

It was unknown Friday night if her cats survived. No one in the family was seriously hurt.

Collinsville IL fire chief Kevin Edmond discusses the three-alarm house fire in southern Illinois near St. Louis, MO that occurred March 3 that brought in firefighters from Troy, IL, Maryville, IL, Edwardsville, IL and Glen Carbon, IL.

Collinsville Fire Department called out three alarms for assistance. Chief Kevin Edmond said many departments came to their aide, including Troy, Maryville, Edwardsville and Glen Carbon. He said there were other communities that helped at the scene, as well.

Even so, the fire caused significant damage to the house, and the Red Cross was working with the Atwood family.

While the cause of the fire was being investigated, Edmond said they do know it originated at the back steps of the porch, a place where Atwood has kept hay for her cats to lay in for years.

“We barely made it out,” Atwood’s daughter, Candra Atwood, said. “When we got to my room (to escape), the whole living room was engulfed in flames.”

Firefighters in Collinsville, IL are fighting a house fire on South Hesperia Street in the southern Illinois city near St. Louis, MO.

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