Unattended Candle Starts St. Charles Apartment Fire

When the residents of a St. Charles apartment complex went to sleep Sunday, they never imagined they would be awakened by their smoke alarms and their living room ablaze in the middle of the night.
The cause? A candle left burning into the night.

At 1:54 a.m. Monday, Dec.17, Central County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) got the call there was an apartment fire in the 2200 block of Campus Drive in St. Charles. When they arrived, the first floor of the two-story, eight-unit apartment building was on fire.

“Fortunately, the residents had working smoke alarms and everyone was safely out of the unit on fire. So, the crews immediately began putting out the flames and searching adjoining apartments to insure everyone had been evacuated and that the fire had not extended beyond the initial apartment,” CCFR Assistant Chief Steve Brown says.

December is the peak month for candle fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve.

“Any time you have an open flame you are putting yourself at a risk of a house fire. That on top of the business of the holidays, when it is easy to forget a candle is burning, is a recipe for disaster. We strongly recommend everyone use battery-operated candles, and other decorations that do not require an open flame,” Brown says.

It is estimated that $50,000 damage was caused by the fire. CCFR was assisted by the City of St. Charles Fire Department and the St. Charles County Ambulance District.