Two Randolph County, Ill., brothers who were both paralyzed were killed when a fire gutted their house as they and other relatives slept, Coroner Randy Dudenbostel said Wednesday.
Killed were Dennis Monroe, 45, and Willie Monroe, 42. They were pronounced dead at the scene at 1:33 p.m. Tuesday from smoke inhalation and severe burns, Dudenbostel said.
A third brother, Demeatrius Lowery, and his wife and young son, all of whom also lived in the house just outside Sparta, were taken to Sparta Community Hospital, Dudenbostel said. The extent of their injuries was unknown.
The three survivors escaped the blaze through the front door of the two-story house.
Dudenbostel said Lowery made several attempts to re-enter the burning home to rescue his brothers. “But the smoke and fire were too tough,” Dudenbostel said.
He said the brothers were paralyzed as a result separate car wrecks.
The house is in an unincorporated area outside Sparta in a community called Eden. The house is about two miles from the Sparta Fire Department, which responded to the 12:15 p.m. call, department spokesman Troy Kueker said.
Kueker said fire and smoke were visible from the house when firefighters arrived. They remained on the scene for about six hours with mutual aid from departments in Steeleville, Coulterville and Tilden. The house was gutted, but no other structures were threatened.
The cause of the fire is undetermined, though officials suspect the culprit was a wood-burning stove. Foul play is not suspected, but the fire remains under investigation by the state fire marshal, the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office and the Sparta Fire Department, Kueker said.