BARTONVILLE — A 4-year-old boy died in a house fire Tuesday morning in Bartonville.
John Bankes III was found dead after the fire was brought under control, according to Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood. He was pronounced dead at 12:45 p.m., the coroner said. The state fire marshal was on the scene conducting an investigation in tandem with the Bartonville Police Department and the Bartonville and Limestone fire departments.
Few details are known about the fire, which occurred at 312 Buena Vista St. The blaze began at about 11:40 a.m., and early scanner traffic indicated someone may have been inside the home at the time.
Rescue equipment filled the small street. Neighbors stood on on their lawns. White smoke hung in the air as the reality sunk in that the little boy had not survived the fire. Harwood said witnesses told him that flames were coming out of the front of the house, near where the young boy was found. No one else was inside, the coroner said, adding the boy's father was just outside the home before the fire.
"I could reasonably see that the child was far enough into the house, creating a grave degree of difficulty for rescue. I know the dad had significant burns in an attempt to rescue him. He did everything he could to try to to rescue this kid, and I mean that with everything in my heart," Harwood said.
It wasn't clear what caused the fire to spread so quickly. Bartonville Police Chief Brian Fengel said the matter remains under investigation and he declined to give additional details.
Members of the American Red Cross were also on scene to assist the family.
Crime scene tape up. Lots of upset people. A somber mood. This doesn’t look good. Appears a tragedy occurred but no official firstname.lastname@example.org/3zx2NlVnsb— Andy Kravetz (@andykravetz)July 17, 2018
Worst fears come true. The coroner is here. Just awful here in Bartonville. Very tense— Andy Kravetz (@andykravetz)July 17, 2018