CAHOKIA HEIGHTS, Ill. – A Cahokia Heights, Illinois, resident escaped a smoky house fire Tuesday morning, but their five pets are still unaccounted for.

The fire happened around 9 a.m. on Louise Lane. Multiple fire crews were called in to help put out the flames. A police officer even stepped in to assist the Camp Jackson Fire Protection District.

“We were called out for working fire when we got on scene heavy fire coming out of the structure. One occupant did make it. He has some injuries. He was taken to a local hospital,” Camp Jackson Assistant Fire Chief Sharon Davis said.

Davis said firefighters will soon begin to comb through the remains of the house to look for the dogs, who remain missing.

“Soon as we start looking through it, if we find them, we will bury them, if that’s what (the homeowners) want,” she said.

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The Camp Jackson Fire Protection District is all volunteer and the number of calls to the fire department increases every year. Meanwhile, the number of volunteer firefighters is falling not only here but across the country.

“Cahokia Heights Police Department are a vital part of this community. They help us a lot. (The officer) was just trying to help us until we got more manpower here. We did not want it going to another structure,” Davis said.

“The entire nation is struggling to get volunteers during the day. It’s always worst. A lot of our guys have daytime jobs. Until we get enough help, our police officers are helping us.”