Fire damages garage

(Originally published in the Telegraph on 7/17/08)

BETHALTO - About 3 p.m. Tuesday, the oldest son of Marc and Kim Reinke opened the back door to their home's garage to find half the room engulfed in flames.

Peyton Reinke, 11, discovered the garage was burning when he decided to come inside after playing in the back yard, his father said. Peyton alerted his mother, who telephoned for help. Marc Reinke was not home at the time of the fire.

Bethalto Fire Chief Chester Schilling said a short-circuit in the electrical lines caused sparks to catch a pile of clothes on fire. Firefighters from Bethalto, Cottage Hills and Meadowbrook arrived at the Reinkes' rental house in the 100 block of Surrey Lane shortly after Kim's call. The team ripped off the melted and warped garage door and contained the flames to one side of the garage.

The firefighters extinguished the fire in about 10 minutes, Kim said.

In the aftermath, the charred remains of clothes, Christmas decorations, photo albums and other items littered the garage floor, and the stench of smoke fouled the whole property.

"The contents of the garage are pretty much gone," Schilling said.

Unfortunately, this was the second time in a little more than a year that the family had to deal with such a situation. Fire destroyed the Reinkes' previous home on April 28, 2007. A suspected electrical fire ravaged their East Alton residence, destroying all of their possessions and killing their dog.

Ironically, many of the items damaged in Tuesday's fire were donated to the Reinkes after they lost everything in last year's incident, Kim said.

"We don't have good luck," Marc said. "We've got bad luck. It follows us."

Mildred Zappa, Kim's mother, rushed to the scene as soon as she heard the news.

"(Kim) works her butt off, and then something like this happens again," Zappa said.

Schilling arranged for the Reinkes to sleep in a motel Tuesday night. Marc planned to meet with a representative from his insurance company this morning.