A fire damaged a vacant historical home at 209 Church St. in O'Fallon on Wednesday morning.
Scott Avery, public information officer for the O'Fallon Fire Protection District, said the fire was reported around 9:57 a.m. on Wednesday morning. He said the blaze caused extensive damage to the historical home.
Nearly 35 firefighters from O'Fallon, Central County Fire and Rescue and Lake Saint Louis arrived on the scene to help extinguish the blaze. Currently, O'Fallon firefighters are going through the home and opening the walls to ensure there are no hot spots, Avery said.
According to fire officials, the fire is not suspicious. Avery said the home was under renovation and new renters, who expected to move into the home on Sunday, were painting early Wednesday. Avery said a flood light may have been left on and possibly shorted out.
No one was in the house at the time of the fire. Avery said two firefighters sustained minor injuries. One cut his hand on a ladder and another suffered a cut on his face.
The home is a beloved fixture for many in O'Fallon who knew the previous owner well.
Pat Swinger from the O'Fallon Historical Society said the frame of the home was built in 1900.
"The significance of it to those of us in recent decades remember it as the home of Rosie Morhead," Swinger said.
Swinger said Rosie owned the home mid '60s and was a beloved fixture of the community with deep family roots in O'Fallon. She was a member of the O'Fallon Methodist Church, which is today Cornerstone Methodist and one of the original founders of the O'Fallon Historical Society.
Swinger said back in the '60s most children knew her as "Aunt Rosie" and added she was "quite the interesting little character in town."
"The house when she lived there was loaded with antiques. It was museum-like and had beautiful Victorian furniture," Swinger said. The O'Fallon Historical Society purchased a few momentos in the estate sale, after Rosie passed away, she said. Aunt Rosie's handmade chair and old crank telephone are still on display in Historical Society Log Cabin.
Swinger said she doesn't know what the outcome of the damage will be to the home, but she hopes to see it rebuilt.
"This points out the urgency of doing what we can to protect the old historic houses in O'Fallon," she said. "Watching that house on fire this morning, it just made me think we really need to do more to secure the Krekel House. The city owns it, and yet no funds have been earmarked to preserve the house. And it could suffer the same fate, and it would be horrible if we lost that house."
The Krekel House, which is the oldest standing structure in O’Fallon, was purchased by the city five years ago. O'Fallon Patch previously reported the City Council voted to put the renovations on hold so council members could discuss te project in more detail.