(KMOV)-- Investigators suspect arson in a house fire that trapped and killed a dozen dogs. News-4 was first on the scene when the flames quickly spread from a shed to the home around 2 o'clock Monday afternoon. It happened in St. Clair County, just south of Cahokia in East Carondolet.
Investigators tell News-4 that two kids from East St. Louis -- just 12 and 13 years old -- may have been responsible for the fire that consumed the home and everything inside. They believe whoever is responsible used a flare like this one to ignite it.
Two young boys are hauled away in the back police cruisers -- wanted -- for questioning in the blaze that destroyed this home and trapped a dozen dogs, which were like children to the husband and wife who lived here.
"When you can't have children, yeah, they really are. They're all I had," Rhonda Tutor, home owner, says. "They don't judge me; they're just there for me and now I can't even be there for them."
While the Tutors were at work, fire fighters say flames were raging when they arrived -- stirred by a steady breeze. Crews also had a lot working against them. Short on water and manpower, the all-volunteer crew needed five tanker trucks from five different agencies to douse the flames. They couldn't do it fast enough to save the family pets.
"I loved every one of them," Tutor says. "Just everything I have is gone."
And now neighbors are credited with tipping police to seeing a red, Dodge Charger ditched by two underage drivers just minutes before flames erupted down the street. Police towed the car as evidence and quickly captured the kids not far from the scene.
"Someone who is responsible for destroying a person's livelihood," Prairie du Pont Fire Chief Aaron Hook says.
A volunteer firefighter from Dupo is out of the hospital after suffering from smoke inhalation while fighting the fire that destroyed the rural home.
The Red Cross is helping the family.
Maggie Crane is a reporter at KMOV. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.