MT. VERNON, IL — A Sunday morning house fire in Mt. Vernon claimed the lives of a young mother and her 14-month-old baby. According to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office, 18-year-old Ashley Cheatham and her baby son Brendon Pauling were killed in the Sunday morning fire at 1213 South 24th in Mt. Vernon.
The baby’s father, Cody Pauling, was burned while attempting to reach Ashley and Brendon. Cody was initially taken to SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon before being transferred to a Springfield, Illinois burn center. He reportedly received burns to his hands, feet and chest. He was outside the home when firefighters arrived. The home where Ashley and Brendon lost their lives was a complete loss. The State Fire Marshal’s Office was called to investigate the cause of the fire. A natural gas line was breached and was feeding the fire but it’s unclear at this time what role the gas line may have had earlier in the fire.
Firefighters report the single-story home was engulfed in flames when just before 6 a.m. a neighbor called to report the blaze and flames had spread to an adjacent home at 1211 South 24th. Police officers reportedly beat on the door of that home and were able to get the two occupants out of the building uninjured. Jefferson Fire Protection District provided mutual aid on the scene while Kell and Woodlawn firefighters stood by at the Mt. Vernon Fire Station in the event of another call.