WHEELING - John Paluch and his family have lived at 4335 Eoff St. in South Wheeling for 40 years.
This morning, a fire ripped through the basement and spread smoke throughout the upper floors of the home, sending him and his family into the street.
Paluch said he was sitting in the downstairs shortly after his daughter and grandchildren arrived at the house at about 7 a.m.
Photo by Heather Ziegler
Roger Paluch and his daughter watch as Wheeling firefighters clean up after fire charred the basement of his Eoff Street home this morning.
"We were sitting there and I smelled smoke. Then I saw smoke coming out of the basement," Paluch said. "We just grabbed the kids and ran out. I didn't even have time to put on my shoes."
After getting everyone out of his own home, Paluch ran next door to his neighbors' home to alert them to get out because their house sits a few feet from Paluch's home.
"I knew she has trouble walking so I wanted them to be able to get out," he said. "I think the rain kind of helped us."
Assistant Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Murphy was first on the scene and said smoke was pouring out of the windows. Flames were discovered in the basement. Several pumpers, a ladder truck and rescue truck responded to the scene and quickly brought the fire under control, preventing the spread of flames to the closely situated houses to the north and south of Paluch's home.
"That house to the south had us worried but we stopped it (the fire)," Murphy said. "The house on the other side is vacant."
Murphy said there was no obvious cause for the fire and investigators will remain on scene in an effort to determine the source of the blaze.
The fire left Paluch's basement charred and smoke damage throughout. The home is covered by insurance.
Fire crews cleared the scene by mid-morning.