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Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - February 12, 1999, Alton, Illinois SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836 I Congratulations Alton Ace Hardware receives customer i satisfaction award Page IM End In sight? Climactic vote scheduled for noon today PageC-3 The outlook Becoming partly cloudy; high 32, low 18 ; Hawks flying high I Carrollton I regional title Page LL8 : Vol. 164, No. 28 — 50 cents wins Page B-l Friday, February 12,1999 www.thetelegraph.com ■ Tornado leaves two walls of house standing Mother, six children burned out of home By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer ALTON — A single mother and her six children lost nearly everything they owned early Thursday when their home burst into flames. The two-alarm fire, in the 1000 block of Union Street, was reported shortly before lam. The cause of the fire — which is being called suspicious — is under investigation by Alton police and fire departments. There were no injuries. “I was coming home from work, and I pulled up just as the police pulled up,” said Ruby Smith, 37, who had rent ed the house since May. Smith said she was able to salvage only two tables from the rubble. She has no renter’s insurance. Her children, ages 5, 6, 12, 13, 15 and 17, were staying with Smith’s mother at the time of the fire. “All their clothing burned, but we’re OK, we’re just going on,” Smith said. She said she is looking for another place to live. Until then she is staying with her mother. Assistant Fire Chief Tim Spaulding said the fire in the two-story, wood-frame house started near a kitchen. “There was some difficulty extinguishing it because there were several small rooms upstairs,” Spaulding said. He said no one reportedly had been at the house all day Wednesday, and the electricity had been turned off. “It was pretty suspicious.” Detective Jerry Cooley is investigating the fire for the police department, while Capt. Matt Williams is the fire department’s investigator. He said the building was a total loss, with damage set at $70,050. The value of the house’s destroyed contenis was estimated to be $20,000. Anyone wanting to help the family can call 462-5947. rn The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Ruby Smith has a blank look on her face Thursday morning as she stares at the gutted remains of the house she was renting in the 1000 block of Union Street in Alton. A two-alarm blaze destroyed everything she and her six children owned, including one of the children’s dolls that was lying outside in the fire rubble. By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT Telegraph staff writer A cold front from the West touched off thunderstorms and a tornado in Calhoun County near Bellview, nearly destroying a house and damaging other buildings ‘It’s a mess. There are tons of trees down,” Calhoun Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Klaas said. The home of Ruth Thomas was nearly destroyed, and an attached carport collapsed on a car. “Only two walls remain standing,” Klaas said. Thomas was away from home when the storm hit, he said. He said roofs and siding were damaged on two other houses and several sheds were destroyed. The tornado blew through the northern tip of the county at 2:30 p.m. “I’m glad it came when it did because there were few people at home There were no injuries," Klaas said. The Weather Service said the high today is expected to be 35. Rain came in sheets Thursday but left quickly. “We had about 0.4 inch of rain, but that’s probably on the low side for the area. Other areas got between 0.5 inch and an inch,” said meteorologist Gary Schmoker of the National Weather Service. The wind knocked out the rain gauge at Melvin Price Locks and Dam, but the wind gauge had showed wind speed at 46 mph, a locks worker said The storm knocked down at least one power line in Alton, an Ameren UE spokeswoman said. The line fell to the pavement at Jefferson and Grand avenues in Alton and caught fire, said spokeswoman Susan Gallagher. About 130 homes were without power Thursday afternoon The weather is expected to bounce back during the weekend with highs expected in the low 50s, a National Weather Service spokesman said Firefighters, city sign new contract By LINDA N. WELLER Telegraph staff writer ALTON — In a brief noontime ceremony, city and fire officials signed a five-year contract Thursday at Alton Fire Station No. 2. The signatures of Mayor Don Sandidge, Fire Chief Donald Dugan, Capt James McFarlane and retired Capt. Glenn Walters, who served on the negotiating team, sealed a contract that gives members of Local 1255 of the International Association of Firefighters raises of 3.5 percent for each of the next three years. ■ See CONTRACT, Page A-9 Good Morning Area/Illinois .A-3-10 Bulletin Board .A-7 Classifieds C-4 Editoriai ......A-4 Horoscope ----D-6 Nation/world .. .C-3 Obituaries A-6 Ambrose, Arnold, Crumer, Evans, Fleming, Haushalter, Jenkins, Kelly, Roloff, Wilson, B A., Wilson, B. Television D-7 Weather.......D-8 Alton man dies in U.S. 67 car crash By MICHAEL HAYES Telegraph staff writer WEST ALTON, Mo. — An Alton man died after the car he was driving slid off U.S. 67 and landed upside down in a pool of water, leaving him submerged. The crash happened about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday about a mile south of the Clark Bridge. Bobby J. Wilson, 24, was driving a Mazda Protege when it apparently slid off the road and hit three large tree stumps, becoming airborne before coming to rest in the gully, authorities said. The car traveled about 200 feet after it went off the road between the northbound and southbound lanes, said Fire Chief Lonnie Sachs of the West Alton Fire Protection District. A Fieldon man said he was on his way to work at Christian Hospital Northwest in Florissant, Mo., when he saw cars pulled over at the crash scene. John Newingham, a security officer at the hos- The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Valerie Bray, of Alton Area Towing in Godfrey, looks over the car in which an Alton man died late Wednesday when it flipped into ditch water on U.S. 67 in See CRASH, Page A-9 West Alton., Mo. 1.800-833-9424 Touch Tone 24 Hours (Illinois Sales Tax Included in Loan) ‘Tour Credit is not as Bad as you think” We are the leader in getting you approved! 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