Metro-East News

Belleville mattress fire turns into safety lesson for children

AP Graphics

Three children and their grandmother escaped Friday morning from a fire in a Belleville home.

According to Belleville Fire Chief Tom Pour, the fire started at about 11 a.m. in a rear bedroom of the house at 2003 Muren Blvd. A 5-year-old boy was the only person in the room when the fire ignited.

“There are no signs that the fire was electrical in nature,” Pour said. “The cause is being investigated.”

The 5-year-old boy, a 3-year-old girl, a 7-month-old girl and their grandmother were home when the fire started. They all escaped safely before the fire department arrived, and firefighters quickly doused the flames which were contained to a mattress and box spring.

Resident Chad Huckaby, 28, said his mother was babysitting the kids while he went to Fairview Heights to run some errands. He got a frantic call from his mother that there was a fire and rushed home as fast as he could to get there. He sprinted past the three fire trucks out front to a bench where his family sat while discussing the blaze with firefighters.

“I didn’t know what happened or how bad it was,” Huckaby said. “I’m just glad that when I got here the kids were out, and everyone was OK. Material things can be replaced.”

Huckaby declined to give his mother’s name or the names of the children. He said the family pets, a collie named King and a pit bull named Cato, also were rescued from the house.

Pour sat on a bench in front of the house with the two older children and discussed fire safety as firefighters made sure all the embers were extinguished.

“There are smokers in the house so I reminded them about not playing with things like lighters,” Pour said. “We try to create a rewards system, so I asked them what their favorite kind of candy is and struck a deal with the adults: If they find a lighter or matches laying around unattended, they’re not going to touch it. They’re going to tell an adult and get a piece of candy as their reward.”

Pour said it was discovered that there weren’t any smoke detectors in the rental house. He said firefighters would return Friday afternoon to install smoke detectors free of charge.

While the charred bedding was scattered on the front lawn, Pour said the damage to the home was minimal. Firefighters had to break a window to get to the fire, but water and smoke damage was contained.

“They’ll need a new window, some drywall and a new mattress and box spring,” Pour said. “But they won’t have to turn off the electricity or anything like that.”