Folks in Puxico Have Much to Be Thankful For after Fire
By: CJ Cassidy
PUXICO, Mo. - People in Puxico have much to be thankful for in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
We've now learned there were three people and a dog inside a historic building built back in 1891 that went up in smoke Friday evening.
Amazingly enough they all made it out safely.
They escaped with the help of some very brave folks who didn't hesitate when it came to putting their own lives on the line.
Most people in Puxico say they watched helplessly as the old Burris Hotel went up in flames, but it was even more terrifying for those inside.
Maryann Coutavas owned a jewelry store in the building.
"I heard what sounded to me like a piece of furniture being crashed against the wall. Three or four seconds later, the whole top shook and there was another same type of crash," she recalled.
Coutavas ran outside, and saw something that made her blood run cold.
"I looked up and I saw Charlie trapped and I just started praying," she said.
Charlie Morris, 82, owned the building. He and his dog lived on the second floor.
Within seconds, Maryann says people around her jumped to action. She says A.J. Siegler who owns a store across the street found a ladder down the street.
"Even though he's disabled, he carried it like it was a feather," she said.
Firefighters tell Heartland News Ryan Hartman saved Morris' life by rushing up that ladder to get him out to safety.
"They said there's still a dog up there," Adam Rath remembered.
That's when the 16 year old put his volunteer firefighting skills to the test.
"It was pretty scary. The balcony was kind of squeaky and all kinds of stuff was dropping from the ceiling. The heat blast was kinda scary," he said.
Still, Maryann Coutavas says she isn't surprised the town Morris loves turned out to help him.
"He's a behind-the-scenes person, doing things for people, taking in people who had no other place to go. Charlie took them in; he was a helper."
The third person that escaped also lived in the old building.
Charlie Morris is still in a St. Louis hospital undergoing treatment for his burns.