Benton, IL Woman Dies in Weekend Fire

Woman Dies in Weekend Fire
By: Carly O'Keefe

BENTON, Ill. - A southern Illinois woman died in a weekend house fire.  Flames trapped 54-year-old Elizabeth Coffey of Benton, Illinois in the second story of her McLeansboro Street home Saturday afternoon before firefighters could rescue her.
Relatives say the blaze spread through the upstairs of the house very quickly.
"My mother-in-law came downstairs to get something to eat, and went back upstairs and not even ten minutes later, the upstairs was in flames," said daughter-in-law Maryann Upton.
Once Upton realized the house was on fire, she grabbed several young children living in the home and got them out.  Other family members went looking for Coffey upstairs.
"My husband ran upstairs, my daughter's boyfriend ran up the back stairs, the fire was too strong, it kicked them out," said Upton.
When firefighters arrived, parts of second floor were fully engulfed in flames.
"She was still trapped in there.  We couldn't get her out," said Upton.
Coffey, a beloved mother and grandmother, was killed in the blaze.
"She was a real nice lady.  I loved her to pieces, and now she's gone," said Upton.
The fire didn't just take Coffey from her family, but her 15 surviving children, grandchildren and great-grand children who were living in the nine-bedroom home are now homeless.
"We're staying up at the Days Inn right now until we can find somewhere for us to go," said Upton.
"There's been a lot of people who've helped us find clothing and we're very thankful for it, because if it weren't for the ladies at work and other people, we wouldn't have anything," said Coffey's granddaughter Misty Upton.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal is investigating the fire.  There is no official word yet on what caused the blaze at this time.
This was the second fatal fire in Benton, Illinois in less than two months.  A house fire in late August claimed the life of 52-year-old Jeff Collins, brother to former NBA star Doug Collins.