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Fire destroys home in unincorporated Lake County, occupant injured

Lincolnshire-Riverwoods firefighters respond house fire Monday night near border Buffalo Grove Lincolnshire. One perswas taken an arehospital with burns. |

Lincolnshire-Riverwoods firefighters respond to a house fire Monday night near the border of Buffalo Grove and Lincolnshire. One person was taken to an area hospital with burns. | Joe Shuman/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 23, 2014 3:30AM

Fire completely destroyed a house in unincorporated Lake County late Monday night, after firefighters from nine departments battled the blaze for the more than two hours.

A male resident of the home in the 20500 block of Clarice Avenue was injured while trying to escape.

He had burns and suffered smoke inhalation, and he was taken to Highland Park Hospital for treatment, where he remains, said Chief Fred Kruger, of the Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Fire Protection District.

A female resident of the home escaped uninjured.

Fire officials are unsure what caused the blaze and do not have a calculation yet of the estimated damages.

“The house is totally destroyed,” Kruger said. “There is very little left.”

When firefighters arrived at the single-family home at 10:30 p.m. Monday night, they ran into several problems that made it difficult to efficiently fight the fire.

“We had several problems,” Kruger said. The nearest fire hydrant was 200 feet away, but there was a maintenance issue with that hydrant, he added. It was broken, and they could not get any water out of it. Lake County Public Works Department checks and maintains hydrants once a year in unincorporated Lake County, Kruger said.

The average distance between fire hydrants is normally about 400 feet, he said, but in this situation the next closest fire hydrant was 800 feet away from the home. That distance forced firefighters to create an “in-line operation,” by chaining engines together to pump water to a firetruck. That was how they could blast the water onto the house, Kruger said.

While fire fighters were waiting to get water hooked up, the fire had gone through the roof, which caused a live power line to break free from the house, falling into the backyard, Kruger said. Firefighters could not go into the backyard until the power was shut off.

“It was just free-burning, once it got into the attic and through the roof,” Kruger said. “... And then of course with the wind and the snow and the cold, we ended up throwing a box alarm.”

That resulted in a total of nine departments responding to help.

The other big problem was that the gas meter caught on fire, Kruger said. The gas coming out of the meter was on fire as it was released. When the gas is burning, it is relatively safe, but fire fighters needed to cut off the gas on the street as soon as possible.

Firefighters had to find the valve on the street for the gas, but the street was covered in snow, making it difficult to find the valve, Kruger said.

“It was a tense situation for a couple of minutes,” Kruger said, when sending firefighters in with a Nicor worker to cap the gas pipe.

The chief said they had to bring firefighters in close to the meter with some hooks. From a distance they used the hooks to pull the meter away from the house. Then they used the same hooks to pull the three-quarter-inch pipe away from the meter.

“It was like a blow-torch,” Kruger said.

They watered down the area of the house that was on fire and extinguished that area. Then Nicor worker came put a cap over the pipe.

Fire officials are continuing their investigation.

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