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No injuries reported in 3-alarm Lake Forest house fire

Lake Forest-1/28/14 Tues./180 W. Laurel Ave. A Knollwood Fire truck operations Tuesday 180 W. Laurel Lake Forest during 3rd Alarm

Lake Forest-1/28/14, Tues./180 W. Laurel Ave. A Knollwood Fire truck in operations Tuesday at 180 W. Laurel in Lake Forest during 3rd Alarm Fire. Joe Shuman/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 3, 2014 2:24PM

There were no injuries in a 3-alarm fire around noon Tuesday in Lake Forest where extra personnel were called to the scene because of the brutal temperatures.

There was no visible fire when the first firefighters from Lake Forest arrived at 180 West Laurel Ave., but there was heavy smoke in the basement where the fire originated, said Eric Montellano, battalion chief at the scene for the Lake Forest Fire Department.

Between the cold — about minus 18 — and the size and construction type of the nearly 7,000-square-foot home built in 1908, Montellano said they upgraded to a 3-alarm quickly. The home had some balloon framing, which unlike today’s homes can have wooden studs run two or three stories up to the attic, which means fire can race up a wall all the way into the attic, which it did in this case, said Montellano.

“It spread up to the second and third floor,” he said, but crews were able to strike the fire quickly and some walls were sledgehammered to put out spot fires inside the walls.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Several fire investigators were on the scene Tuesday afternoon. The call came in from the homeowner as a structure fire. All utilities were shut off and the house is not immediately inhabitable because windows were also broken to vent the structure of smoke.

Firefighters did not have problems with nearby hydrants, there was one at the end of the driveway, but crews were changed frequently because of the cold.

“We were fighting the cold,” said Montellano.

Trucks and personnel from 25 departments assisted at the scene or manned Lake Forest Fire Department. The initial damage estimate is still undetermined, officials said late Tuesday.

The family was talking to their insurance agent at a neighbor’s house after the fire was extinguished, but declined to talk to a reporter.

The house sits on a 1.6-acre lot located just west of Green Bay Road. It last sold in 2005 for $4.25 million, according to

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