Keokuk, IA House Fire, Feb 1971
BROTHER, 18, VOWS TO KEEP SURVIVORS OF FIRE TOGETHER.
Keokuk (AP) -- "We want the kids to stay together no matter what," said TOM ST. CLAIR.
The 18-year-old youth, who lives in Bloomfield where he attends school, lost his mother, a brother and two sisters in a fire early Wednesday morning which raged through the family's Keokuk home.
Five other children escaped. The five, CHERYL, 14; her brother, TIMOTHY, 8; two other brothers, JOE, 9, and DARRYL, 6, and a sister, LAURIE, 12, were admitted to two Keokuk hospitals.
They were reported in satisfactory condition with burns and cuts.
Their father, ARCHIE ST. CLAIR, who is being treated for alcoholism at the Iowa State Mental Institute at Mt. Pleasant, visited with the children Wednesday afternoon.
Several relatives have offered to take the children after they are released from the hospitals. "A lot of relatives want them," said MRS. LIND ST. CLAIR WRIEDEN of Keokuk, their married sister.
Her mother, MRS. ARCHIE ST. CLAIR, 38, a Head Start teacher, and her brother, ARCHIE, JR., 17, and two sisters, CAROLYN, 11, and DELIA, 4, died in the blaze.
A neighbor, Eleanor Moander of Keokuk, said she was awakened early Wednesday morning by the children's screams.
"I heard the kids screaming," she said. "I looked over there and the house was in flames. Some of the children were outside."
"It was just terrible. They were barefooted, crying and yelling. One was screaming for her sister who was still inside."
She said her son, Jim, 26, was driven back by flames when he attempted to enter the house, but did manage to remove a body of one of the victims which was near a doorway.
She said CHERYL "told me she threw the children out a second story window before she was forced to leap herself because the flames were burning her hands."
The fifth survivor, TIMOTHY, managed to get out of the house on his own.
"They were all in shock," Mrs. Moander said of the children. "I took them into my house then called the fire department and an ambulance."
Cedar Rapids Gazette Iowa 1971-02-04
CIGARET SEEN AS CAUSE OF KEOKUK FIRE.
Keokuk (AP) -- Keokuk Fire Chief Floyd Danley said Saturday that a lighted cigaret apparently started a fire at a home here Wednesday which killed four members of the ARCHIE ST. CLAIR family.
The blaze killed MRS. ST. CLAIR, 37, and her children, ARCHIE, JR., 17, CAROLYN, 11, and DELLA. Five other children escaped from the flaming house.
Danley said one of the survivors, CHERYL, 14, told him she had been awakened by smoke, went downstairs, and saw her mother beating out a cigaret in a davenport.
According to the girl, said Danley, the mother assured her the flaes were out and she went back to bed, only to be awakened again by screams and flames coming from a radiator vent.
Danley said he and Robert Leber of the state fire marshal's office completed the investigation into the fire late Friday.
Cedar Rapids Gazette Iowa 1971-02-07