ALTON - No one was hurt in a fire that killed a family pet and devastated the home of an East Broadway tavern operator Monday morning.
The fire began about 9:30 a.m. at 2901 Buena Vista Ave., in the home of Charlie Wiley, proprietor of the nearby Cellar Room tavern. Multiple witnesses called firefighters after seeing smoke and flames coming from the vents and attic of the house, and family and friends gathered to comfort one another in a grassy lot across from the brick and sided home as flames flickered in the windows.
Wiley said the fire started shortly after he left for work. Only 20 minutes later, he said, he received calls that his home was in flames.
"It was so full of smoke in there, I couldn't see nothing but six inches off the floor," Wiley said.
After first trying unsuccessfully to enter through the basement, Wiley tried to get into his house from the front door on the ground floor to find his dachshund, Buddy, but was prevented by thick smoke and a ceiling that was caving in and melting.