EAST PEORIA- An East Peoria neighborhood is coming together to lend a family a hand after fire destroyed their home Saturday afternoon.
The fire started in the houses garage in the 200 block of Wildwood Court around 4:00 p.m., now charred walls and caution tape are all that remain.
"We had flames in it when we showed up, about 20 feet in the air," said Lieutenant Bill Akers from the East Peoria Fire Department.
He said his crew arrived just minutes after the blaze began, but the fire had already gotten out of control.
"There was a family of five home at the time, one of them was a handicap child. They had enough time to get out and get out safely and by the time we got there the garage was completely involved and it was spreading though the attic," Akers said.
The flames were so hot they melted a garbage bin in the front yard and the siding on the house next door.
Kimberly Travise lives one house down and said the displaced family and their young children are in the hearts of everyone on this street.
"It went up so fast that they couldn't, they didn't have time to grab anything. She was outside in her pajamas with no shoes, she was freezing. So I came in and they were little boys clothes, but they kept her warm," Travise said.
Travise said she's pushing a neighborhood effort to collect items for the family.
"Clothing, toys for the little girl, anything that will comfort her a little bit until they get their insurance, till they get back on their feet," she said.
Though investigators are still trying to find what sparked the flames, Akers said it could have been from the family's portable heating unit.
"It's a nice message for everybody to be careful and whenever they're using portable heaters in their house or in the garage," Akers said.
Akers said the family does have insurance to fall back on. He said no one was hurt, but one of the family's cats died in the fire.
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