FAIRMONT CITY, IL (KPLR) -A young girl woke up Wednesday morning to find she almost lost half her family and several neighbors to an overnight fire in the metro east.
Benito Saavedra fought his way out of a mobile-home fire in Fairmont City, Illinois. The Mexican native only speaks Spanish. His granddaughter, Araseli Rodriguez, was asleep in a trailer nearby. But, she translated her grandfather’s story for FOX2 / News 11.
“He said that he woke up at one o’clock [a.m.], and he saw that it was burning beside him,” she looked at her grandfather’s bare feet. “He said that he took his three children, and recovered them and ran out with them, and he wasn’t wearing nothing. Everything burned.”
Fairmont City Firefighters kept the fire from spreading to the entire community, but not before two more trailers and two cars burned. First responders had to dodge a small explosion as flames melted the electrical system on a nearby minivan. The fire almost trapped more of Saavedra's family inside.
“He said that he was going to get the other girl,” she said. “But then the smoke made him fall down and he burned his hand. And then after that, he said he stood upand he took the other girl out.”
Saavedra looked down at his swollen fingers. He had to leave behind the family’s vital records.
“He said that he is happy his family got out,” Rodriguez explained. “But he said he had $3,000 and the papers of his little kids, even his, all burned even the papers of Mexico.”
The little girl woke up to find three burned trailers, two charred vehicles, and several homeless family and friends on the morning of her 11th birthday. But, she said knowing she could still celebrate with her entire family made her feel “Good”.
This all happened on a school night. All the children boarded a morning bus, heading for class. Rodriguez did, too. She left her grandfather and cousins in the hands neighbors who started replacing lost clothing, shelter and a sense of normality.
A local church offered clothing to those affected by the fire. The Red Cross offered help with shelter.
Revive Assembly of God
1105 Beltline Road
Collinsville, IL 62234
American Red Cross – St. Louis Chapter Disaster Services