An East St. Louis minister has died after he was pulled from his burning home by two East St. Louis fire captains and a firefighter.
The Rev. Henry Nicholson, 82, former pastor at True Light Missionary Baptist Church, died Monday. Firefighters received a 911 call reporting an occupied house fire with a person possibly trapped inside, Fire Chief Jason Blackmon said. The fire call came in at 5 p.m. Sunday.
When fire crews arrived at the burning house, they discovered an elderly man inside of the house. Capt. David Donahue, Capt. Marvin Haynes and firefighter Patrick Jackson pulled him from the three-level brick house, which included a basement, Blackmon said.
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The victim, later identified as Nicholson, was rushed to the hospital, where he later died.
A state fire marshal was investigating the cause of the fire Tuesday morning at the Nicholson home. The state fire marshal report could take at least six weeks to be completed. Blackmon said the home didn’t appear to be a total a loss.
The fire started in the basement, which was heavily damaged. There was moderate to heavy fire damage to the main level of the house. Eleven firefighters battled the blaze and Blackmon was also on scene. It took about an hour to extinguish the fire, Blackmon said.
Timothy Chambers, who has been the pastor at True Light Missionary Baptist Church for a little more than four years, followed Nicholson to the pulpit at the church located at 1535 Tudor Avenue in October 2011. Nicholson was the pastor for 56 years.
“You can never replace Henry Nicholson. He was a true East St. Louisan, born and raised,” Chambers said.
The church turns 106 this year and there have been only three leaders in the history of the church.
“He was the second pastor, I am the third,” Chambers said. “He altered my soul.”
Chambers said strength to move forward from the tragedy will come from looking back on teachings from Nicholson.
“Through teachings of pastors like James Lampley, founder of True Light Baptist Church, and Rev. Henry Nicholson, who built upon that foundation, all we have to do is look back at our past and it will serve to propel us toward our future, and ultimately trust in God,” Chambers said.
He said Nicholson resided at 453 N. 14th St. with his wife. Nicholson has three children, he said. A daughter and Nicholson’s wife were checked out at a hospital and were released.