ALTON - Five occupants of a home on the 2200 block of Booker Street are lucky to be alive following an early morning fire on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, Alton Fire Chief Bernie Sebold said. 

Sebold said his department received a call around 1:34 a.m. Wednesday for a fire at 2224 Booker St., finding fire had already vented and was blowing out of second floor windows. Five occupants escaped the home without injury, Sebold said. He said they were lucky, because the batteries in their smoke detectors had died and were not working at the time of the fire. 

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"Please make sure individuals have working smoke detectors in their homes," Sebold said. "This house did not have batteries in their detectors. They were fortunate to get out safely." 

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Three adult males and two teenage males were in the home at the time of the fire. They were given vouchers to stay at the Comfort Inn for the rest of the evening, and the Alton Fire Department referred them to the American Red Cross if they required further assistance. 

Firefighters quickly advanced in an attack line up the stairwell, Sebold said, and were able to extinguish the fire within 15 minutes. They stayed on the scene an additional two hours to do overhaul, check for hot spots and investigate the cause and origin of the fire. Sebold said it started in a bedroom on the second floor in which an adult male occupant was sleeping. The cause is yet to be determined, but Sebold has some suspicions. 

"We were unable to gather enough information from [the adult male occupant sleeping in that room] to determine an exact cause," Sebold said. "In that area, we found an electric cooking wok and a space heater. A family member also said he cooked in his bedroom, and was also a smoker. It's possible electrical was involved by combustibles by the wok or space heater, or it could have been caused by smoking." 

The damage caused by the fire was estimated to be as much as $20,000 by Sebold. The home was a rental, and Sebold said the occupants did not have rental insurance, but said the property owner did have property insurance. 

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