June 2, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

LEMAY - Lemay Fire Protection District Chief Neil Svetanics, formerly the St. Louis fire chief, stepped down from his post last week after more than 11 years as the district's fire boss.

Deputy Chief Brian Heidbreder said Svetanics' official retirement date is July 6, but he is off-duty until then due to accrued vacation.

Svetanics retired from the St. Louis department in 1999 after 37 years of service, the last 13 as chief. He returned to the profession in 2002 when he was hired by Lemay to replace George Williams.

In 1998, Svetanics was named Fire Chief of the Year in 1998 by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and by Fire Chief Magazine.

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February 20, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

LEMAY - Firefighters battled a small fire in the restaurant at the River City Casino this morning. The fire was extinguished within a half-hour, and the casino was running again within 90 minutes.

Authorities say no one was hurt. The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but a casino spokeswoman said it might have started in an oven flue.

According to dispatchers, the fire was reported on the roof before 9:30 a.m., and smoke was seen on the north end of the building. At 9:45 a.m., crews had extinguished a fire in the kitchen but said fire was still coming through the roof.

By 10 a.m., officials at the scene said the fire was out, although there was still some smoke showing.

The River City Casino is between South Broadway and the Mississippi River just south of the city limits.

LeAnn McCarthy of the Missouri Gaming Commission said everyone on the casino floor was evacuated at 9:30 a.m. The casino was back in business by 11 a.m.

The casino and the Missouri Highway Patrol officers who work at the casino made sure everyone was evacuated safely and that the machines were secured, McCarthy said. A security officer at the casino declined comment.

The Lemay Fire Protection District is the lead agency, but St. Louis city also sent some equipment to help fight the fire.

It wasn't immediately clear how many people were in the casino when the fire began.

Candice Coleman, a spokeswoman for the casino, said, "It was a very small fire that occurred in the Great Food Exposition. The situation was quickly contained."

She said the casino's biggest priority was the safety of the people inside.

She said the hotel was not evacuated.

The River City Casino reported that its adjusted gross receipts for the month of January were $15,643,351, according to the Missouri Gaming Commission.

The number of admissions on the five Thursdays last month went ranged from a low of 8,733 admissions on Jan. 2 to a high of 14,606 admissions on Jan. 30. The adjusted gross receipts for those days were $271,519 and $469,313, respectively.

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February 20, 2014 - KTVI

LEMAY - Gamers had to leave the River City Casino in a hurry Thursday morning after a fire broke out in the kitchen.

An employee tells FOX 2 the fire started just before 10 a.m. in the large kitchen on the north end of the building, near the casino. Smoke could be seen coming from the roof of the building.

The casino was evacuated and there are no reports of injuries.

We will update the story as more information becomes available.

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December 27, 2013 - KMOV

LEMAY - Fire heavily damaged a home in south St. Louis County on Friday, December 27.

The fire broke out around 1:00 p.m. at a home in the 800-block of Vegas Drive. When firefighters arrived on scene, the fire was raging and had taken over the garage and a car inside. The home, garage and car were all heavily damaged in the fire.

Luckily, no one was hurt in the incident.

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Firefighters say farewell to Alex Onkle
Alex Onkle, 7, operates a fire hose with firefighters Jason Brice (center) and Steve Atherton during his November visit to the Lemay Fire Protection District headquarters.

April 30, 2013 - Suburban Journal

LEMAY - Several firefighters from the Lemay Fire Protection District went on a special call Sunday.

They drove a fire truck and joined dozens of family members, friends and classmates to say goodbye to 7-year-old Alex Onkle, who died April 20 of brain cancer. A visitation was held at John L. Ziegenhein & Sons Funeral Home, 4830 Lemay Ferry Road.

In November, they granted one of Alex's wishes to ride in one of their fire trucks. They drove the youngster around Lemay, letting him sound the siren. Then, they made him an honorary firefighter.

"We remember how much fun he had," Lemay firefighter and paramedic Robert Firtos said. "This is a chance for us to say goodbye. He was a brave boy."

The Hancock Place Elementary School student was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer in July 2010. He endured two years of treatments that were tough at times. Then, six months ago, he and his parents, John Onkle and Wendy Hall-Onkle, decided to stop the treatment.

"We let him be a full part of the decision," Wendy Hall-Onkle said Sunday. "Cancer controls everything. He had no control of the cancer, but he had full control of his treatment from the very beginning. We didn't hide anything from him." The first four months were good for Alex. He was energetic and had regained his spirits. He and his family also were at peace, she said. Alex began to fade away during the last two months and died quietly. It also was his decision to be cremated and the ashes kept with his family.

On Sunday, dozens of people crowded into the funeral home. Some signed a large card. Others looked at photographs of him. There were tears, but also some laughter.

Although the end was known, it still isn't easy to deal with his death, his mother said.

"He was put on the earth for such a short while," Wendy Hall-Onkle said. "Near the end, he told us that he was waiting for God to collect him." Alex Onkle is survived by his parents; siblings Khristina Onkle, Christopher Bolton and Joey, Chaz and Chloe Onkle; and grandparents Patricia and John Onkle. In his memory, the family started the Alex Onkle Financial Support Foundation. Its goal is to raise money to help families dealing with childhood cancer. "There are a lot of expenses outside of the treatment," Wendy Hall-Onkle said. "We want to help with gas, utilities, rent, hotel stays. It adds up."

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