Fire destroys home of 19 in St. Louis

Friday, December 21, 2001

ST. LOUIS -- A fire early Thursday destroyed a St. Louis house and all its contents just days before Christmas. A police spokeswoman said 19 people, including 11 children, lived in the house.

Lakisha Smith, 20, said a flaming bottle came through a broken downstairs bedroom window just before 2 a.m., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Web site, stltoday.com, reported.

"Everything we owned was in that house," Smith said. "Our kids don't even have shoes to wear." The Red Cross was assisting.

Smith said she saw her sister's ex-boyfriend running from the house just after the flames shot through the window. Police were seeking him for questioning.

Smith lived in the home with several relatives. The family helped evacuate their 49-year-old blind cousin and 74-year-old uncle who needs oxygen tanks to assist his breathing. The uncle was taken to an area hospital for treatment. No one else was hurt.

Smith said her grandmother bought the house 34 years ago.

"She worked her whole life for that house," Smith said. "And she let us live there because we didn't have anywhere to go."

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