Three houses burn in U-City; Toddler hospitalized for smoke inhalation

UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. – A house fire spread to neighboring residences in University City early Tuesday evening, prompting a multi-department response.

The University City Fire Department received a call about a two-alarm fire in the 6500 block of Etzel Avenue just before 6:10 p.m. Authorities were initially told that two houses were on fire.

Nettie Yates, who lives near the houses, walked out of her house and saw a cloud of black smoke. She watched as the houses right next to hers burned in flames. But she only thought of one thing.

“Did someone call the fire truck?” she said.

After six call attempts, the fire department responded.

Units from the St. Louis City and Maplewood fire departments arrived to help extinguish the spreading fire and search for possible rescue workers.

A neighbor said one of the houses was newly built and no one lived there at the time of the fire.

The massive flames even led to water shortages.

“We ran out of water pretty quickly until we got to a fire hydrant,” said Battalion Captain Rob Cage of the University City Fire Department.

The fire started in the kitchen of the middle of the three houses. It took firefighters an hour and a half to control the flames.

Neighbors tell FOX 2 a mother and her eight children live in the home where the fire started.

Captain Cage confirmed that several juveniles were in the residence when the fire broke out. Three children suffered smoke inhalation. Only one, an 8-month-old child, had to be taken to a local hospital.

Cage said the fire spread quickly due to the design of the homes.

“The structure is a wood frame with tar and vinyl siding,” he said. In the meantime, his main concern is the infant’s recovery and the hope that the family will find a new roof over their heads.

“We’re going to give her clothes, a toothbrush and soap and let her know where her resources are,” said Nettie Yates’ granddaughter.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Three houses burn in U-City; Toddler hospitalized for smoke inhalation

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