By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DAHLGREN — Two people died in an early morning fire Sunday in Hamilton County.
Fern Thiery, 67, and her 17-year-old granddaughter, Kara Munce, were pronounced dead at 10:03 a.m. Sunday, according to Hamilton County Coroner Ron Ewald.
The victims, found in a hallway, died of smoke inhalation.
Ewald said the fire is under investigation by he, the Dahlgren Fire Protection District and the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Dahlgren Fire Protection District responded to the fire at the Thiery residence, north of Dahlgren, at 4:12 a.m., according to Fire Chief Pete Anselment. Fern Thiery is the wife of Charles Thiery, former superintendent of the Dodds and Ina school districts.
Another granddaughter, about age 15, was not at the Thierys when the fire broke out. Charles Thiery reportedly was at his elderly father’s residence — about three miles from his residence.
“It was fully engulfed when we arrived,” Anselment said. “A neighbor called it in and said he could not get close to the house, and he didn’t know if anyone was inside or not.”
Anselment, chief in the village of Dahlgren the past five years, said it was a tough day for the fire department since many of the firefighters personally knew the victims.
“It is a tragic day. The whole community is mourning. We have a small volunteer department so it’s been hard on all of us. There were numerous of us there that had never witnessed anything like we had yesterday. It’s been tough on everybody.”
Anselment said it was his first fatal fire as chief, although the department has been dispatched to other fatality-related events.
Anselment said the cause and origin of the fire has not been determined by the fire marshal’s office.
The fire department was on the scene for about eight hours, returning to its headquarters shortly after noon.
Ewald reported the last fatal fire in Hamilton County occurred in 2004 near Broughton which resulted in multiple fatalities.