One killed in St. Charles house fire

  • A burned couch sits on the lawn on the 100 block of South Third Avenue in St. Charles after a fire Sunday. A resident of a second floor apartment, died.

      A burned couch sits on the lawn on the 100 block of South Third Avenue in St. Charles after a fire Sunday. A resident of a second floor apartment, died. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Resident Eric Miller removes his belongings from the scene of the fire.

      Resident Eric Miller removes his belongings from the scene of the fire. Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer

  • Next-door neighbor Louise Selfridge said she was shaken up by the fire.

      Next-door neighbor Louise Selfridge said she was shaken up by the fire. Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/11/2015 5:47 PM

A St. Charles man who used a wheelchair and had lung cancer died Sunday morning in his second-floor apartment in downtown St. Charles.

The fire department was called to the house on the 100 block of south Third Avenue at about 7:30 a.m., city officials said in a news release. When firefighters arrived, smoke was billowing from a second-floor window.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Paramedics declared the man dead at the scene. Authorities were not releasing the man's name or anything about him Sunday afternoon, pending notification of next of kin.

A friend of the victim, Eric Miller, who lives on the lower level of the building, spent the afternoon removing belongings from the building with the help of his son Kyle.

"I'm fine," he said. "(But) my buddy died."

Miller said his friend was 60 years old and had lived there for 14 years.

"I went up there to try to get him out, and the smoke just overwhelmed me, and I couldn't get in there. I ran back down, called 911, and the police showed up first. They tried to get in there, and crawled low to get to him and (one) came out and said, 'Are you sure he's in there?' I'm like, 'Yeah, he's disabled. He can't move.'"

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Miller said his friend, who had lung cancer, used a wheelchair.

He said firefighters then arrived and wheeled him to the sidewalk.

"There was a blanket over him, but I could see ... he was badly burned. And then five minutes later they called me over and told me that he didn't make it." Miller said.

Miller said the man was a carpenter and painter by trade.

"Just a good guy," he said.

Next-door neighbor Louise Selfridge said she was shaken up after witnessing the fire,

"I heard water hitting my apartment. I heard glass breaking and I saw a dead body being pulled out of there," said Selfridge, who has been living in her apartment since July. "It could have gotten to my house, since my kitchen window faces that window (next door)."

The fire was confined to the second floor of the building, which authorities said is a rental property.

The fire was controlled in about 15 minutes, causing an estimate $50,000 in damage.

The Geneva, Batavia and West Chicago fire departments assisted at the scene.

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