ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KPLR) – Fire destroyed a South County home that had spanned generations.
The loss was heartbreaking.
Still, the victims were grateful, an alert neighbor may very well have saved a life.
It happened at the Dallas family home around 4:30 Saturday afternoon on Baptist Church Road near Ronnie’s Cinema.
A group of neighborhood boys watched as a family home for nearly 30 years seemed to melt.
“There was a lot of smoke. Every once in a while you could see flames shoot up from the back of the house and stuff,” said Max Downs, 12.
“I was getting text messages going fire, fire, emergency, emergency,” said neighbor, Sue Kasten.
She was at work. She sensed the danger from those messages, though most neighbors had no idea of the true scope of the emergency.
The fire started in the bathroom, firefighters said.
Lori Dallas said her mother, Helen, 75, was home alone. One moment she smelled smoke. The next moment it was all around her.
“I know the grandma [Helen Dallas] said she opened the door to the bathroom she was laying down. She opened the door to the bathroom inside it was full of fire. She closed the door again,” Kasten said.
Lori Dallas feared her panicked mother would have likely retreated to her bedroom but just then, another neighbor came and got her out of the house.
The family’s three dogs were rescued, too, Lori Dallas said.
The fire broke out just after Lori had left to take her young granddaughters to the movies.
Once out of the house, Helen Dallas stayed at Kasten’s home, Mehlville firefighters doused the flames.
One firefighter treated for a minor burn.
“I’m surprised everybody made it out ok. I’m so thankful for that,” Kasten said. “Thank God the girls were not there with them at the time the fire started. They got the dogs out so she was happy. That’s what the grandma said, ‘my dogs!’”
Investigators had yet to say exactly how the fire started. They believed the cause was accidental and the home a total loss.
The American Red Cross is assisting the family with shelter, clothing and food.