Fire Damages Heritage House; Elderly Residents Displaced

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - It was a scary night for elderly residents in Midtown St. Louis. A fire broke out in their high-rise apartment building. Many were already battling health problems when they packed stairwells trying to escape heavy smoke.

Elderly and disabled residents tried to escape a blaze that raced through the high-rise Heritage House Apartments early Wednesday.

St. Louis City Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said the fire started on the first floor of Yummies Restaurant, at 2800 Olive in Midtown. He added that firefighters drove in from the west at 1 a.m., and could see flames bursting from the windows.

“The fire was extending down the hallways, into the building, and started going up,” the chief explained.

Jenkerson said first responders started developing a plan before they left the trucks.

“They made entrance through the front door and also through the side,” he pointed out. “Cut it off from going up the steps and into the interior of the building and contained it to the restaurant side.”

They knocked down the fire in just 15 minutes.

“They did a fantastic job,” Jenkerson said.

Firefighters found residents, many who already had serious health problems, in the stairwells trying to escape the heavy smoke.

“Everybody above were sheltering into place.”

About a hundred residents were evacuated, many on stretchers and in their wheelchairs. Then, the investigation started. It lasted well after the sun came up.

“From three on up, the building's pretty safe,” Jenkerson explained. “It's not that much smoke. The first three floors, we do have a few issues which we're checking out."

Jenkerson said Yummies is a total loss. The owners, and their families, gathered at the scene. They were too upset to speak on-camera. They said they were hurting. One of the owners posted on Twitter: “My investment just went up in flames. Yummies is no more.”

They said they were looking forward to a grand opening on July 13th.