Cause of St. Joseph house fire may never be known – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

December 31, 2021 by No Comments

ST. JOSEPH — No one was injured and firefighters were able to save three vehicles when a house was destroyed by fire early Thursday.

St. Joseph-Stanton Fire Protection District Chief Josh Reese said village Trustee Art Rapp was one of several people to call for help when fire broke out inside his two-story home at 401 Aspen Court about 8:45 a.m.

“We arrived about eight to nine minutes later. Smoke was pushing out all the eaves,” said Reese. “Pretty quick after that were flames through the roof of the garage and the second story.”

Reese said Rapp smelled smoke and tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher, but “it was a little too big for that.”

Reese said the Illinois State Fire Marshal is searching for a cause, but because of the thorough destruction, they may never know exactly how the fire started.

Investigators do know it started in an upstairs storage room that contained papers and books.

Rapp and his wife got safely out of the home that they have owned since about 2004.

It’s located on a cul-de-sac north of U.S. 150 toward the east end of St. Joseph.

Reese said it didn’t take long for him and his fellow firefighters to sound a second alarm for more help. Among the other volunteer departments that sent manpower were Sidney, Ogden-Royal, Homer, Edge-Scott, Carroll, Philo, Broadlands-Longview, Eastern Prairie, Gifford, Villa Grove and Savoy.

Savoy used its aerial truck to help douse flames from above.

Reese said once the fire got into the roof, it spread quickly.

“We had to pull everybody out because the roof was unstable and starting to collapse,” he said, estimating firefighters were inside no more than 10 minutes when they retreated.

It wasn’t until 11 a.m. that the fire was considered struck, Reese said.

Rapp, a Corvette enthusiast, had several car parts in his garage that were evident on the driveway. Reese said firefighters were able to get two cars and a truck out of the garage before fire reached that part of the house.

Ammunition stored in the basement did not pose any particular hazard because the fire never reached the basement, Reese said. It’s now covered in water.

The Rapps were at a neighbor’s house as firefighters pumped water from three different hydrants in an effort to save their home. They were receiving many calls and texts offering help and lodging.



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