Fire destroys rural Columbia home

Firemen spray water into the basement of the home of Brian and Debbie Hill on Bluffside Road in Columbia early Saturday evening. (Corey Saathoff photos)

Three area fire departments battled a sunset blaze that destroyed a family’s home in rural Columbia shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Columbia Volunteer Fire Department received assistance from Millstadt and Prairie Du Pont firefighters at the home of Brian and Debbie Hill at 6968 Bluffside Road. Columbia EMS personnel and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department also responded to the scene.

The Hills were home at the time the fire broke out. Columbia Assistant Fire Chief Jim Broshears said the Hills were sitting in their living room when they smelled smoke coming from the kitchen area, went to investigate, and saw heavy smoke coming from that area of the home.

A firefighter sprays from above on the burned-out home of Brian and Debbie Hill.


The family was able to safely evacuate without injury. When they got outside, they saw their house in flames. Firefighters arrived to find most of the home already engulfed.

“We had to surround and drown,” Broshears said. “There isn’t going to be much saved from that place, honestly.”

The cause of the fire is “probably electrical in nature,” Broshears said, but he didn’t eliminate the possibility of it having to do with a chimney flue.

Neighbors on scene provided the family with much-needed support, and an American Red Cross unit was also dispatched to provide assistance to the displaced family.


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