MATOON, Ill. (WCIA) — More than 20 families were forced out of a motel after a fire gutted part of it Thursday afternoon. It happened at Motel 6. Firefighters said everyone inside made it out safely, but a family dog was killed. A firefighter also collapsed from heat exhaustion and was taken to a hospital, but is expected to be okay.
April Gray’s dog, Lucy, was trapped in a cage when the fire broke out. Her fiance tried to reach the dog, but burned his hand. Lucy did not make it out. Gray said she was a service dog for her son, who has autism.
“When he was having a bad day, when he was upset, he went to his dog,” Gray said. “He went to his dog, he loved his dog. She was what made him through a lot of things.”
Authorities are investigating how the fire started.
The Red Cross is helping families living there find shelter. Some have been allowed to return to their rooms with firefighters to grab their belongings. No word yet on how long it will be until people can stay there again.