ROCK FALLS – For a woman who had just survived a fire that destroyed her apartment and everything in it, Holly Spatz was remarkably calm and collected.
Spatz was rescued from her second-floor apartment at 303 W. Second St. in Rock Falls early Friday as a fire destroyed the building.
It houses the office of dentist Karl Felker and two apartments. Spatz, 20, and two occupants in the other apartment escaped unharmed.
Rock Falls Fire Capt. Bill Milby said Monday that while his department didn’t have a final determination of the cause of the blaze, it appeared to be an electrical fire.
“We are looking at it as electrical,” Milby said. “It’s still under investigation.”
Early the morning of the fire, Spatz woke up to the smell of smoke. She opened her bedroom door and heard the smoke detector, she said.
“I called my mom and said, I think my apartment is on fire,” Spatz said. “She said, ‘Why are you calling me? Call 911.’”
With the 911 dispatcher on the phone, Spatz tried her back door, where she saw smoke billowing in. When she went to her front door and opened it, she saw fire from the floor to the ceiling on the other side of the door.
She then went to the window in her living room and stuck her head out. A police officer asked her to go back and grab her keys, she said, which she did.
The officer asked her to climb on the roof and await a firefighter’s ladder so she could safely come down.
A firefighter using a ground ladder got her out of her apartment.
Just days after the blaze, Spatz was able to look back at the situation and recount the tale calmly.
“I knew if I was meant to live, I would live,” she said. “If I was meant to die, I would die. I knew God had a plan for my life. It would be his will, not mine.”
Spatz is now living with her mother, Stacey Wallace, in her Sterling home.
Spatz had just moved in to the building on Second Street on July 8 after returning to the area from Bible school in Arkansas. She graduated from Sterling High School in 2010.
On Monday, Spatz said her faith was playing a critical role in her ability to move on and focus on the positive in her life.
“I’m a Christian,” she said. “In the Bible, it says that all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord. In the past few weeks, I’ve really learned who I am in the Lord, and I have a purpose. I know that with or without the apartment, I had a purpose.
“My life makes a difference, with or without my things in it.”
Spatz didn’t lose just her apartment; she also lost her job. The young woman was a receptionist at the dentist’s office downstairs.
She is now looking for work.
When Spatz was safely out of the burning building and out of harm’s way, the first phone call she made was to her youth pastor, Chris Stanley of Rock River Christian Center in Rock Falls.
Spatz said some members of her church were working to help get her a job and get back on her feet.
The American Red Cross gave Spatz a pre-loaded debit card to help her buy clothing, shoes, food and other items.
Spatz also said she had been overwhelmed by the help of others. A business across the street gave her water and juice after the fire.
An employee also came up to her and gave her $100 and “just walked away,” Spatz said.
The experience brought tears to her eyes. Spatz said it is a “blessing to be alive and have the surrounding I do.”
“A lot of people were really panicked because they thought I didn’t make it,” she said. “Everyone’s just really thankful. Last night at night service, I thanked the Lord for my life. It’s just great. No, I don’t have it all together, life isn’t perfect right now.
“I know that God has a plan and he’s going to work it all out.”
The American Red Cross is helping people affected by the fire at 303 W. Second St. in Rock Falls. The Red Cross provided Holly Spatz and other displaced residents with clothing, shoes and food.
To help victims of local disasters by making a contribution to the Red Cross, call the Lincoln Land Branch at 815-625-0382 or mail a check to 112 W. Second St. in Rock Falls.