ST.JOSEPH, Ill. (WCIA) – St. Joseph-Stanton Fire Protection District said the fire started around 11:00 Friday night, on New Year’s Eve, and it wasn’t completely out until around 3 Saturday morning.
Firefighters said it all started from a kitchen light. We asked the fire department if that meant it was electrical, or maybe a bulb exploded. They said, “Not sure on that, we just know the light is where it started.”
And it was a devastating start to the new year,
“I had no idea whether my house was burning with my child and him inside,” Kristin Jones, a neighbor, said.
Jones was at work in the emergency room when she started to get dozens of calls from her husband.
“I called him back on my work phone, and I just heard a bunch of commotion in the background, a bunch of people screaming for him to get out of the house, and the baby was crying, the dogs were going crazy, and then the phone line went down,” she said.
Jones left work and raced home. When she got there, she realized her next door neighbor’s house was up in flames, and the fire had spread to the side of her home.
“It was gut-wrenching, and then you get here and you’re just speechless. You know, you work so hard, and I know my neighbor Chris has worked so hard to get where we are, and just to watch all that melt in front of your eyes is traumatizing,” she said.
Jones neighbor, Chris Wright, is a veteran. He did several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was honorably discharged from the army. She said he had been through a lot, and worked hard to get where he was, but in one night, just a few hours, everything was lost.
“His house is completely burnt down, and he actually lost his dog Bo. Which actually is not just a dog. His whole life he’s wanted a hunting dog, a dog for his PTSD for when he got out of the military, and Bo was all of that for him. It was like his child,” Jones said.
Now, she said Chris has moved in with his dad and is starting all the way over. That’s why Jones and several others are hoping to help.
“It’s truly the worst feeling watching people you care about so much, and like I said, they work so hard and they’re such good people,” Jones said.
Jones has started a fundraising page for Chris to help him get back on his feet, and help him work to get a new service dog. She said he could use basically everything. Clothes, shoes, everyday essentials, and even dog food donations for his puppy that survived the fire.
You can make a donation here, or Venmo at KristinWhite21. Jones said you can also contact her on the fundraising page to schedule a physical donation.