St. Charles Woman Dies Trying To Save Dog


Sueanne Henry spent her final moments struggling through a suffocating wall of black smoke as she tried to rescue her dog, Sarge.But neither Henry, 61, nor Sarge survived a fire Thursday at an apartment complex at 604 Clark Street.Investigators say Henry had escaped her apartment but ran back inside to save Sarge.Sarge “was her best friend,” said Henry’s daughter, Rachel Santel, 32, of O’Fallon, Mo. “That’s the only reason she would have went back in there. She loved that dog.”Firefighters found Henry unconscious Thursday morning in an upstairs hallway. She was pronounced dead of smoke inhalation a short time later at St. Joseph Health Center in St. Charles, said Fire Chief Ernie Rhodes.

Firefighters found Sarge dead beneath Henry’s bed. She had named her dog, a Shih Tzu mix, after her father, who had served in the military.Henry, who lived alone, retired last year from her job in the mail room at Verizon in Wentzville, said Santel, one of her two daughters. Henry was a rock collector, loved geology and often took in rescue animals. Santel said she couldn’t believe her mother is gone.

“I am in shock,” she said.

The fire started about 8:20 a.m. in the basement of the two-story, 14-unit brick apartment complex, Rhodes said. It spread quickly through the building, sparked explosions and caused an estimated $500,000 in damage. More than a dozen people escaped the complex, which was condemned Thursday.”There was a huge fireball,” said resident Nick Moss, 23. “I was freaked out.”Firefighters rescued Jon Sumner, 47, who was trapped behind a locked sliding glass door in his upstairs apartment, which was filling up with smoke. Sumner climbed down a ladder after firefighters shattered the door to get him.

“I couldn’t see nothing inside,” Sumner said. “It was solid black.”The American Red Cross was helping residents Thursday by offering food, water and shelter. The state fire marshal is investigating but had not determined the cause of the fire. The building had working smoke detectors.Two residents, Josh Sylcox, 28, and Keith Smith, 35, a former EMT and volunteer firefighter, said they heard the smoke alarms and went down a stairwell, where they spotted smoke billowing from the basement. Neighbors said Sylcox and Smith ran through the building banging on doors and screaming for everyone to get out. After Smith knocked on several doors, he said, he ran into his apartment to rescue his Boxer, Rocky, and his cat, Sadie.



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