STE. GENEVIEVE — Two Ste. Genevieve firefighters rescued three occupants from a burning house Monday morning at 195 North 6th Street in Ste. Genevieve.
The Ste. Genevieve Fire Department responded to a fire alarm sounding at the Vo-Ag Building of Ste. Gen. High School at about 11:51 a.m. Firefighters arrived at the school to find that the fire alarm had gone off due to a power outage.
As Assistant Chief Bob Bonnell and Firefighter Captain Gary Roth were leaving the school they noticed smoke coming from a house across the street from the Vo-Ag building. They pounded on the door to wake two residents who were sleeping on the first floor and escorted them to safety. The smoke was very heavy in the structure. Bonnell and Roth then went to the outside basement door and woke up another sleeping resident and escorted him to safety. Bonnell summoned the fire department to the structure fire at about 12:05 p.m.
The fire department arrived to find heavy smoke throughout the structure. The department used a thermal imaging camera to determine that the fire was in the basement of the house. Firefighters entered the basement and extinguished the fire which had originated in the electric panel.
Fire Chief Mick Schwent said the electric panel had overheated and actually blew parts of the main breaker out of the panel box. These hot embers landed in a cardboard box which ignited a small fire on the floor. It was also determined that the structure did not have natural gas service to the furnace. The residents were using several electric space heaters to heat the home which contributed to the malfunction of the electrical panel.
Schwent also indicated that the failure of the electric panel caused the transformer on the power pole at the corner of 6th Street and Washington Street to trip out. This transformer supplied power to the Vo-Ag building at the high school, which in turn caused the fire alarm to go off.
The house did not have a working smoke detector.