Senior citizens displaced by fire

UPDATED AT 9:55 p.m. Tuesday

A morning fire at a northeast Missouri housing complex leaves five elderly residents homeless just a week before Christmas.

The blaze was reported around 9 a.m. at the Green Castle Rural Rental Housing complex.

A unit with four apartments is a total loss.

Firefighter James Snyder with the Green Castle Fire Department told KTVO Tuesday night the fire is believed to have started in the apartment where John Wilks lived.

Wilks was not home at the time.

Snyder said the fire does not appear suspicious, and foul play is not suspected.

An investigator from the Missouri State Fire Marshal's Office arrived at the scene around mid-afternoon to look into a cause.

Snyder said he was on the scene for a few hours, and his investigation continues.

Kathy Hatcher, a member of the housing board, told KTVO that everyone made it out of the fire, including two widows and a couple.

Hatcher said emergency medical crews were dispatched to Green Castle Tuesday night to pick up resident John Wilks, who was complaining of chest pain and respiratory problems.

Hatcher says it appears the symptoms are likely stress-related stemming from the fire.

Air Evac took Wilks to Northeast Regional Medical Center in Kirksville for treatment.

Hatcher told KTVO any donations for the residents can be left at Green Castle City Hall.

Most of them lost nearly everything in the blaze.

Snyder said once the fire was put out, the residents were able to salvage a few of their personal belongings and mementos.


A fire in Green Castle, Missouri has left at least five senior citizens without a home.

Fire officials said around 9:20 a.m. Tuesday they were called to the Green Castle Housing Units.

Once crews arrived, they found a unit with four apartments engulfed in flames.

We're told that at least two dozen firefighters from Green City, Green Castle and Milan Fire Departments battled the blaze.

"I heard a lady screaming, saying her house is on fire," said neighbor, John Low. "I ran down here, nobody was here yet."

Low told us once he ran down to the home he was just trying to get the elderly residents out of the home. With the help of Low, all of them did get out safely.

Another witness and neighbor told us what he noticed. "It started as a real small fire and then it got worse and engulfed all four units," he said.

The American Red Cross is helping all the residents by providing some of the necessities during their loss.

"We're making sure that people have a place to stay for the next couple nights," said Deane Valkenaar, Red Cross executive director. "We're providing money on a card for clothing, food and any other possible needs they might have."

All the residents' families were contacted.

Unfortunately, we're told the apartment building is a complete loss.

The cause is under investigation by the Missouri State Fire Marshal's Office.