Illinois Family Gets Help Escaping Home Fire

A family in the 4200 block of Baker Avenue escaped a blaze at their home just minutes before the fire consumed the house on Christmas.

And, thanks to a caring stranger, a disabled woman who might have been trapped in the burning home was pulled to safety.

The stranger did not wait around for thanks, and family members said they would like to know who he was and be able to personally thank him.

The fire started about 11 p.m. Saturday at 4217 Baker Ave., in the home where Phyllis Cobbs, 49, has lived all of her life. The Illinois State Fire Marshal's office was called to determine the cause of the blaze.

Firefighters from Alorton, Centreville, Church Road and Cahokia fire departments fought the blaze for more than an hour.

Cobbs said she and her sister, Darlene Cobbs, and a nephew, Kion Cobbs, were winding down their Christmas Day when she smelled smoke.

Another nephew, DeMarken Cobbs, found smoke coming through the back door.

As she started to escape with her nephews and sister, Phyllis Cobbs realized her 29-year-old disabled sister, Devon Cobbs, was in a front bedroom sleeping.

Waking Devon Cobbs was not easy, but Phyllis Cobbs kept struggling with her. Devon Cobbs was dazed and kept slumping back down on the bed.

Then, a man who was driving by in a truck saw the fire and went to help.

Phyllis Cobbs told the man she was having trouble getting Devon Cobbs out of the room. The man rushed into the room and picked her up. He carried her from the house to a neighbor's house, Cobbs said.

Phyllis Cobbs tried to go back into the burning home to retrieve her purse, but the smoke and fire overwhelmed her and caused her to start coughing. She decided to give up her efforts.

The house was destroyed. Phyllis Cobbs rents the house and does not have insurance.

Phyllis Cobbs said she and her family members are just thankful to be alive.

DeMarken Cobb said the fire was frightening.

"It was blazing up everywhere. I didn't know what to think at first. I just knew my family had to get out. I am thankful that nobody got hurt," he said.

The family lost everything and only saved what they wore out of the home. They lost all of the Christmas gifts and their purses with their personal belongings, money and identification.

Phyllis Cobbs said the family is in need of donations. Currently, they are being given a two-day stay at the Fairview Heights Ramada Inn. Red Cross members took the Cobbs family to the hotel.