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Father and son lost in rural Preemption house fire

UPDATE: The names have been released of the people who died in the fire.

Rock Island Coroner Brian Gustafson says 31-year-old Matthew Phelps of Sherrard and his son 4-year-old Kash Phelps were dead inside the home when first responders got to the fire.

The Rock Island County Coroner said both father and son died of smoke inhalation.


PREEMPTION, Illinois -- A deadly fire broke out at a house along US Highway 67 in rural Preemption, according to the Mercer County Sheriff's Department.

Firefighters were call to the house fire around 10 p.m. Sunday, January 21st.   US 67 was closed from Preemption to Viola overnight while crews fought the blaze.  The road was reopened around 4 a.m. Monday.

The Mercer County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Casey Switzer says crews fought the blaze from 10 p.m. til about 4 a.m.

When first responders arrived, the home was not fully engulfed, so fire crews went in to clear the home. That's when they found two victims already dead inside the burning home.The roof began to collapse, so crews had to evacuate the inside and fight the fire from outside.

Chief Deputy Switzer says because the home was older, there were no fire walls built in. That's why the fire spread so quickly.

Chief Deputy Switzer says there were working smoke alarms in the home. He says he heard them when he arrived on scene.

Several fire departments responded to the scene:  Sherrard, Matherville, Viola, Blackhawk, Orion and Coyne Center.