Fire destroys house in St. Joseph, displacing family | Courts-police-fire |

2022-07-06 21:42:13 By : Mr. Jason Zhou

One of Editor & Publisher’s ‘10 That Do It Right 2021’

Partly cloudy skies this evening. Increasing clouds with periods of showers late. Low 71F. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%..

Partly cloudy skies this evening. Increasing clouds with periods of showers late. Low 71F. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

ST. JOSEPH — A fire at a single-family home in St. Joseph has displaced a family of four.

Josh Reese, chief of the St. Joseph-Stanton Fire Protection District, said his department was called to the house in the 100 block of West Douglas Street at 9:19 a.m. Wednesday.

The home is owned by Robert and Tracie Trotter, who also own and operate Wyldewood Cellars on Lincoln Street in St. Joseph, according to Reese.

Reese said the Trotters’ son was preparing to go out and exited the back door when he discovered the fire.

He alerted his parents and his sister and they were able to get out safely. The family dog also got out, but Reese was uncertain of the fate of the family’s cat.

When firefighters arrived, the back side of the single-story ranch was fully engulfed in flames. The fire got in the attic and moved from back to front, destroying much of the structure.

Homer Fire Chief Don Happ said he could see smoke when he got in his vehicle some 10 miles to the southeast to help with the firefighting efforts, according to Reese.

Reese said his volunteer colleagues called for more help as soon as they arrived, receiving a hand from firefighters from Homer, Sidney, Edge-Scott, Eastern Prairie, Philo, Royal, Savoy and Thomasboro.

Reese estimated about 30 volunteers were able to turn out. The high heat and humidity made the work miserable and necessitated a lot of rotating in and out.

One firefighter was treated there by Arrow Ambulance paramedics for heat exhaustion but did not need to go to the hospital. Otherwise, no one was injured, said Reese, who added that a lot of water kept them going.

Mike Dilley, a former Urbana fire chief and trained fire investigator who works for the Sidney Fire Department, said he thinks a candle left burning on a plastic storage tub on the patio may have been the cause of the fire. It was very near the back of the house, he said.

“The house is considered a total loss. These people lost everything,” Dilley said.

Reese said firefighters were able to salvage a few pictures and a handful of other valuables but agreed with Dilley’s assessment of the damage.

Reese said the Trotters have family in the area they are able to stay with and declined immediate assistance offered by the Red Cross.

Firefighters cleared the scene about 12:30 p.m., but Reese said a few returned a short time later to add more water to a couple of problematic hot spots.

Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

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