The Columbia Fire Department received assistance from seven area departments in battling a residential structure fire in the area of 7800 Triple Lakes Road in rural St Clair County.
The call went out at 10:12 a.m. Monday.
Seven fire departments, including Millstadt, Prairie du Pont, Dupo, Camp Jackson, Waterloo, Villa Hills and State Park were called to assist Columbia with the blaze.
The homeowners, Sean and Andrea Drury, who have two children, were both away at work at the time of the fire. Their kids were at school. Two of the family’s pets perished in the blaze.
Due to the presence of firearms and ammunition inside, as well as a main floor collapse due to extremely hot flames, firefighters were forced to fight the fire from the outside.
“We don’t know how long it had been smoldering before we even got there,” Columbia Assistant Fire Chief Jim Broshears said.Columbia firemen extinguish the flames in the snow on Monday. (Corey Saathoff photo)
Flames and thick smoke were already shooting through the roof of the home, which was built in the 1800s, upon firefighter arrival, he said. The sound of gunfire shooting off from the basement kept firefighters at a safe distance early on.
The fire is believed to have originated in the basement before traveling up the rear of the home, Broshears said. Due to the extreme level of fire damage, he said a cause of the fire has not been determined at this time.
Luhr Brothers brought in a trackhoe to level the walls of the home so firefighters could extinguish portions of the structure that had rekindled multiple times throughout the day, Broshears said.
“The whole house is down,” he said.
Firefighters battled the blaze for several hours.
A GoFundMe account has been set up online in an effort to raise funds for the displaced family. To help out, click here. The American Red Cross is also providing assistance.
For video taken at the scene of the fire, click here.