BELLEVILLE, Ill. — A man in Belleville who was woken up by police officers kicking out his door was surprised to learn his home was on fire.
Around midnight Friday, first responders were called to the 3700 block of Little Flower Lane for reports of a house fire. There, the Belleville Fire Department found the fire had started in the back of the house and had spread to the garage, totaling the car parked inside. Both the back room and the garage were considered a loss by the fire department.
As the fire started, a neighbor saw the flames and called 911. When the police attempted to get inside, they found the door was locked, so they were forced to kick out the door. The homeowner, 80-year-old Wayne Reichling, told 5 On Your Side he heard the noise from the front of his house and pulled out his 9-millimeter pistol and walked down the hallway towards the front of the house.
Reichling, who aimed his pistol at the police who entered his house, was told to put the gun down and to head outside for his safety. He was unaware his home was on fire before the police asked him to step outside. He put his gun down and walked outside.
Reichling said he has spent 53 years in the home where he and his wife had raised their children. He was the only one in the home at the time of the fire.
Belleville firefighters believe the home sustained minor damage outside of the back room and garage.