3 die of smoke inhalation in Scott City house fire

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Scott City firefighters work the scene of a house fire where three people died early Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 at 401 Hopper St. in Scott City. (Fred Lynch)

Three family members died of smoke inhalation early Tuesday when a fire broke out at their Scott City home.

About three hours later in Cape Girardeau, a family of four found themselves escaping their burning home. No one was injured in that fire.

The Scott City Fire Department responded to 401 Hopper St. at 1 a.m. to find the structure engulfed in flames and spent about an hour containing the fire. The home was destroyed, leaving little evidence to determine a cause. However, officials said late Tuesday that it was likely an electrical fire.

The state fire marshal has been called in to investigate, chief Jay Cassout said.

Scott County Coroner Scott Amick released the names of the victims Tuesday afternoon. Donald Estes, 75, Cheryl Talley, 53, and Brittany Calhoun, 24, were all pronounced dead Tuesday morning.

A fourth family member survived -- 77-year-old Norma Estes, Donald Estes' wife. Norma Estes is Talley's mother, Amick said, and grandmother to Calhoun. Norma Estes was transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis from Saint Francis Medical Center.

A dog also died in the blaze.

According to Cassout, the deadly fire was the first in Scott City in about five years. Cape Girardeau and NBC Fire District crews from Benton, Mo., assisted in fighting the Hopper Street fire.

Tuesday's fire at 1105 Giboney Ave. in Cape Girardeau was the second at a residence in the city in two days. Firefighters responded to the home around 4:20 a.m., shortly after one of the home's tenants reported the fire. Heavy smoke and fire were coming from the building when firefighters arrived, and it was under control in about 30 minutes.

According to the department, a stand-alone fireplace sitting too close to a living room wall caused the fire. Damage was estimated at around $60,000.

A Monday morning fire, ruled accidental, damaged a home at 1327 N. West End Blvd. The fire was contained to one bedroom, although there is heavy smoke damage throughout the house, according to the fire department. Cape Girardeau battalion chief and fire marshal Brian Shaffer said Tuesday that the fire was electrical in nature.

It's strange to have as many fires as the area has had in such a short time, Shaffer said.

"We had that sprinkler demo last Friday, and all of a sudden there's a rash," he said. "We don't know if it's because the weather turned again and they're getting space heaters out or what. I guess it's just coincidence."

Shaffer said homeowners should keep space heaters at least three feet away from any combustibles and use extension cords appropriately.

Pertinent Address:

1327 N. West End Blvd., Cape Girardeau, MO

401 Hopper St., Scott City, MO

1105 Giboney Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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