Firefighters were battling a blaze at a home in East St. Louis early Wednesday night that filled the sky with smoke that could be seen from at least three miles out on westbound Illinois 15.
Just after 4 p.m., the fire department responded to the house at 2600 Missouri Ave, a Facebook post from the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency said. Police had blocked off Missouri Avenue from 26th Street to 27th Street and were redirecting traffic at 5 p.m.
Leroy Randolph, 82, who lives in the house, said that he noticed the smell of smoke and walked outside to see where it was coming from. That’s where he saw a small blaze in the back corner of his home.
“Then it spread really fast,” Randolph said through tears. He said he wasn’t sure what started the fire.
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According to Randolph, the home had been in his family for almost 70 years. He said he is the only one who lives there now.
East St. Louis Assistant Fire Chief Derrick Burns said later Wednesday that the fire had spread to another house.
“The radiant heat started to melt the siding” on the other house, but “everyone inside got out safely,” he said.
Burns added that the first house was totally destroyed.
“It’s gutted inside,” he said.
Staff writer Carolyn P Smith contributed to this report.