Alorton Mayor JoAnn Reed’s house was destroyed by a fire early Monday morning, but she managed to get out of the house safely.
Anthony LeFlore, director of Code Enforcement, said the fire ignited around 1 a.m. The fire, at 108 N. 42nd Street, took crews three hours to extinguish.
The mayor said she woke up when she heard a lot of loud noise in the front of house, but was in a foggy stage of mind. She thought somebody was coming in the house and somehow it came to her she should take cover.
Reed later learned the noise she heard came from whatever was thrown through her living room window, which is believed to have ignited the fire.
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“I ran towards my bathroom but I saw Simply Safe‘s name on my phone. I jumped back across my bed to get my phone,” Reed said, referencing her security company.
Reed rushed out of a side door without shoes and only wearing her night clothes.
LeFlore said authorities believe someone threw something into Reed’s living room window, igniting the fire early Monday morning.
He said a witness reported seeing a man in dark clothing fleeing from the scene about the time the fire started.
An Illinois State Fire Marshal’s investigator and a K-9 unit were at the burned remains of the house to determine a cause and origin of the fire.
This is the third residence Reed has lived at that has burned to the ground. Two trailers on Walnut Avenue have been burned, but there have been no arrests in those fires.
She said she recently inherited this house from her father, who died a few months ago.
“Fifty-two years of memories are gone. My family and I no longer have pictures of my mother when she was 16-17 years old. All of our family heirlooms are gone. All of the things you cannot replace are gone,” Reed said.
Reed’s daughter, Jarnia Reed, said her mother was sleeping when she picked up her 9-year-old daughter, Gabby, from the house and said JoAnn Reed called her and was talking loud and fast after escaping the fire.
“I could not understand her. She was worried that Gabby was in the house. I told her I had her and asked her to calm down,“ Jarnia Reed said.
‘“She could not have made it out. The alarm company told her fire was in her house. She opened her bedroom door, saw flames and ran out,“ Jarnia Reed said. “I had just picked my baby up. She could have been in there with my mother. She is always with my mother.”
Jarnia Reed also said she is concerned about her mother’s health. All of her medicines burned in the fire.
“Her heart is racing. She is having heart palpitations. We are going to end up at the hospital, I know. She is very devastated over this situation.”
JoAnn Reed’s brother, Alphonso Reed, said he is troubled that his sister could have lost her life and wants police to investigate the fire thoroughly.
“We want someone to investigate these fires and catch the person who is doing it,” JoAnn Reed added.
Some family said while everyone seems to be focused on what they are calling the embattled mayor, they should focus on the real issue of who is setting fires to the mayor’s homes.
”I think ATF, the State Fire Marshall or somebody should do something. I could’ve been killed — my granddaughter was there with me and had only left 35 minutes before my alarm company Simply Safe called me and told me there was a fire at my house. Simply Safe saved my life. In a matter of minutes, I could have been dead,” Reed said.