According to police, 44-year-old Wendy Rybolt went back into her house because she forgot something. That’s when Bartonville police arrived at the scene.
“We identified that there was a victim inside the house that went back into the house to retrieve a cell phone,” Bartonville Police Chief Brian Fengel said. “Officers went in, tried to retrieve the lady but was overcome by black, dark smoke.”
One of the officers got out of the house, but that smoke proved to be too much for him. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and observation.
The Bartonville Fire Department was then able to get Rybolt out of the home and to OSF St. Francis Medical Center, but she was pronounced dead just an hour later.
Police say the fire started in the home’s basement, the only area with fire damage noticeable from the outside. Rybolt was found in the back bedroom.
The fire chief is using this tragic incident as a reminder to anyone who may ever be in this kind of situation.
“Get out of the structure, and don’t go back in for any physical things, physical animals, your pictures or things like that. Stay out of the structure,” Bartonville Fire Chief Mike Cheatham said.
He said many think smoke is not as harmful as a flame, but that is not the case. “It can cause damage to you, to your lungs,” Cheatham said.
The Peoria County Coroner’s Office said early reports suggest Rybolt died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Officials said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it does not appear to be suspicious at this time.
Rybolt was a mother of four children, and a donation fund has been set up for the kids. You can take clothing donations to the Bartonville Police Department. They've also set up a bank account at Better Bank in Bartonville under "Rybolt Children."
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