A Pekin man who suffered severe burns in an early morning blaze on July 8 has died from his injuries.
Pekin Fire Chief Kurt Nelson said his office was informed Monday evening that William Wieburg, who was in his late 70s, had died.
Wieburg’s sister-in-law, Helen Bulstad of Wisconsin, said he died late last week in hospice after several weeks in the Springfield Burn Unit. He was burned on his back, face, arms and legs, she said.
“He tried hard to survive and didn’t make it,” said Bulstad.
An investigation into the fire revealed that it was caused by improper disposal of smoking materials said Pekin Fire Chief Kurt Nelson. He said there were several cigarette butts in the area and that Wieburg had said he was smoking. Wieburg called 911 at 4:54 a.m. when the fire started, but he was blocked by flames and heat from immediately getting out of the apartment.
The apartment, located at 342 Ann Eliza St., Apt. 5, had only one door, and the couch was next to the door. The only window was behind the couch. The dispatcher told Wieburg to leave the building, said Nelson. Wieburg made his way out but was severely burned.
“All of the exits were on one wall,” said Nelson. “We recommend a second exit for all buildings, but with older buildings, they don’t always do that.”
Nelson said some buildings are grandfathered in under old fire codes, and until the use of the building changes, the second door is not required. The building was converted from a hotel into an apartment building many years ago. The apartments are one-room with a bathroom. There is a small cooking area in the back of the room.
The fire alarm in the room where the fire started was functional and alerted Wieburg to the fire. The fire alarm was going off when firefighters arrived. There are 14 units in the complex. Nelson said only seven of the fire alarms were working. The owner said he put the alarms up, but people take them down or pull out the batteries so they don’t go off when cooking or smoking.
Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin