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Man dies after being trapped in basement by house fire in St. Louis Hills

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ST. LOUIS  Fire officials say a 26-year-old man died early Friday morning in a house fire in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood.

The victim was apparently trapped in the basement of the one-story brick home in the 4500 block of Prague Avenue when the house burned at about 1:45 a.m. Friday. The home had no working smoke detectors, the St. Louis Fire Department says.

Authorities haven't released the man's name.

Capt. Garon Mosby of the St. Louis Fire Department said the victim's father had arrived home to find smoke in his house. He called 911 and told rescuers that his son might be trapped in the basement from the flames and smoke.

Rescuers found the son in the basement and started CPR, but the man was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The cause of the fire has not been released. The city's bomb and arson detectives are investigating, as is protocol with any fire death in St. Louis.

The home is about two blocks northeast of Francis Park and just west of Hampton Avenue.

Mosby said he did not find any smoke detectors in the basement or on the first floor. He said the fire department gives away smoke detectors for free, and firefighters will even install them in homes for people.

"Having them in your home working greatly improves your chance of survival," Mosby said. "It's estimated your have less than two minutes, in a best-case scenario, to get out of your home."

The way newer homes are built and furnished, with less real solid wood and more plastics, they burn faster and hotter, he said.

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