The Arenzville Fire Department got the call to 11822 Stinson Road, about two miles north of town, at around 8:45 a-m to the home of Dianne Stephenson-Kellerman and her husband, David Kellerman.
Fire chief Mike Schone says it started in the middle of the house, and flames were already shooting out of the roof when firefighters arrived.
David Kellerman says he first noticed smoke coming from behind his wife’s computer.
“I immediately went in and shut the electricity off and tried to see where it was coming from. I pulled the dresser out, but it was inside the wall. You couldn’t see it; you couldn’t even begin to try to put it out,” says David. “From there, we were just scrambling to get stuff out of the house. It just started smoking up so quick, you couldn’t do anything. You couldn’t see, you couldn’t breath, you couldn’t even begin to try to put it out, because the smoke was too quick, too fast.”
Dianne says they initially had trouble getting a hold of the fire department.
“We’re trying to dial 911 and the call keeps dropping, and it wouldn’t go through. Finally, he grabs the phone, goes outside,” she explains. “And I grab the fire extinguisher, and I don’t know where to go, and I go into my bedroom, and my bedroom’s full of smoke, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’ I said, ‘This is a problem.’”
The couple says they may have lost several pets- a blue-and-yellow macaw that was left in the garage and a missing cat. Several dogs got out safely.
This wasn’t the first time a fire happened on the family’s property. A shed had burned down about six to eight months ago. Besides a rack of clothes and a few other items, Dianne Kellerman says most of their belongings are gone.
“This is just devastating as heck, because I mean, you know, 40 years of my life is in there,” says Kellerman. “I got tons and tons of pictures, and I’m a procrastinator. When that other fire happened, I went and bought a great big gun safe to shove all my pictures and stuff in it, and my camera cards and things like that, but I never followed through with it. I’ve only got a handful of stuff in my safe, and it’s in the basement, so hopefully it survives.”
The residence was near a wooded area, and although the wind was blowing smoke in the direction of the trees and several adjacent structures, damage was limited to the home itself.
Schone says the house was a total loss, with about $150,000 in damage caused. The Kellermans did have the home insured.
He says the state fire marshal has been called in to investigate, although no foul play is suspected.
The Arenzville Fire Department requested help from the Meredosia and Beardstown Fire Departments. Crews were on scene until about 11:30.