VANDALIA, Ill. (KSDK) – A fire raged through the Central High Apartments Saturday night, leaving one man dead. And residents say it all could have been avoided.
Sections of the building are now surrounded by police tape. Early Saturday morning, smoke and flames filled part of the lower level, trapping an elderly man in his apartment.
"The heat, it was just so hot it dropped me to the floor," said Troy Drury, who tried to save the victim.
Drury woke up to the blaze and tried to help.
"I tried to use the water line," he said, "but it didn't work. The last thing I heard him say was 'I'm on fire. I'm on fire. I'm on fire.'"
The man never made it past the hallway. But Drury said if a nearby fire hose would have worked, the man would have lived.
Residents are allowed to move back in if they'd like. But some say they won't be back.
"It's not livable in here," said Laura Carter, who was helping her uncle move out.
"This building is full of disabled people," she said. "The day after, they're telling my uncle he can come back? I'm not allowing him to come back. He's not allowed to be on the stairs."
Carter says the building's managers paid out of pocket to put a few residents into a motel. But she says that's not enough.
"I think if they're not coming back, the place is not livable, they should be refunded their money for the rent they paid for this month," she said.
We reached out to the building's owner for comment, and did not hear back.