Valley Park, MO (KSDK) - A fire that ignited inside a vacant home that was being renovated is believe to be the cause of a more serious situation that left three residences damaged or destroyed, and claimed the lives of at least three dogs living with a neighboring family.
Firefighters were called to the fire scene early Wednesday morning in the 600 block of Benton Street and found flames from the initial fire spreading to homes on both sides of the structure. The siding on a fouth home melted as a result of the intense heat.
Valley Park house fire - PHOTOS
In the first home, family members smelled fire and smoke and investigated. Once they saw the home next door on fire the family evacuated their house and quickly alerted the woman living on the opposite side of the initial fire.
That neighbor was able to get her safely out of the burning house with a litter of puppies. Her three adult dogs all died inside the burning home. That woman's son has said a fourth dog also died, but that has not been confirmed.
Neighbors could not say for sure what caused the fire, but did say the vacant home where the fire first started was being renovated over the past several weeks.
Several neighbors were upset because they believe some of the damage could have been prevented. When fire crews first arrived at the scene, witnesseses said they had difficulty in getting water from the nearest hydrants. A man who lost his home in the fire described the water flow as "a trickle." The fire department had to use hydrants further down the street.
The Valley Park Assistant Fire Chief Rolland Piotraschke admitted a lack of water pressure in the hyrdrants in question, but said the homes could not have been saved even if those hydrants were fully functional.
The initial home involved was gutted in the fire and the two neighboring homes sustained significant fire, smoke, and water damage.
Fire officials have not pinpointed a cause for the blaze in their ongoing investigation.
There were no other injuries reported in the blaze.