WEST ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - West County Fire & EMS shared helmet camera video with Fox2/News 11 Monday, showing what firefighters were up against from the moment they arrived at a massive house fire on Posthorn Drive in Manchester around 2:30 in the morning.
“From a half block away we could see an orange glow coming from the back of the house. We knew it was well involved before we even arrived on scene,” said West County Firefighter-Paramedic, Tim Geiss. “It was a challenge on multiple levels. It was in the basement. It was on the first floor. It was already in the attic when we got there. So, it presents some challenges. You never want fire above you or below you.”
There was chaos before firefighters got there. Homeowners, John and Judith Ratcliffe told Fox 2 their adult son smelled smoke and saw a glow in the basement; he alerted everyone.
Once outside they realized Judith’s mother, 91, had not yet made it out. They had to go back in and get her; she suffered burns to her hand and back; the family dog did not survive.
The Ratcliffe’s were deeply grateful for the firefighter’s efforts.
Six departments responded.
The home is a total loss.
Firefighters applauded the family’s quick action and said the home did have working smoke detectors.
Considering all the factors in play, including the time of day and the size of the fire, things could have been much worse, firefighter said.
They advised all families to take 5-10 minutes to talk about a meeting place outside the house for all residents in the event of a fire; plus, escape and rescue plans, especially for children and the elderly.
“Come up with the plan on who’s going to help that person because you don’t want to be scrambling around at 2:30-3:00 in the morning trying to figure out who’s going to go get grandma, who’s going to go get the baby,” Geiss said. “You want that already planned out.”
4 of the 5 people went to a hospital, he said.
3 were treated for smoke inhalation and released.
The 91-year-old victim remained hospitalized Monday night for treatment of smoke inhalation and burns.