Gary Henry/The Prairie Press

Fire puts firefighters in emergency room

Fire chief asking for public’s help for investigation

Every structure fire poses danger and a fire at 227 E. Madison Saturday evening took a toll on the Paris Fire Department.

“I had six of my guys that were in the ER that night,” said fire chief Brian Gates.

One firefighter sustained a lower body injury when he got caught in debris. Gates said Monday morning the injury was still being assessed but it was severe enough the firefighter is off work.

The other five were treated after exposure to poison ivy and poison sumac that creates a jungle like setting around the empty and condemned house.

“Three of the guys are highly allergic,” Gates said.

As a result of the injuries, Gates is asking for the public’s helping during the investigation to identify possible suspects.

“We’ve gotten multiple reports of people leaving the property when the fire started,” said Gates, adding police officers took the voluntary statement of one person at the scene. “If the public has any information, it would be really helpful.”

Neighbors have identified at least two people seen leaving the house near the time of the fire and the authorities want to talk to them. Gates said it is a serious issue when firefighters get hurt so any information, either first hand knowledge or something somebody has heard, is important to the investigation.

The department was dispatched at 6:13 p.m. May 13 to the East Madison Street property, which Gates described as condemned as uninhabitable. It is his understanding the house is part of an estate and family members want to demolish it. He added the property owner reported having previously found youths inside the house and told them to stay out of the property.

According to Gates, the fire moved quickly once it started. Flames went up a back wall and got into the attic. A missing window in the gable end of the attic provided firefighters with good access.

“The ladder truck was able to shoot into the house,” said Gates. “That’s where we sprayed a lot of water through.”

The duty shift and call shift actively fought the fire and the Oliver Station of the Paris Community Fire Protection District provided personnel to cover the Paris station in the event of a second call.

Anyone with knowledge regarding the fire or those people fleeing the scene are encouraged to call the fire station at 466-5670 or Gates at 217-712-0265.

The Prairie Press

101 Central Avenue Paris, IL 61944