CLARE - A Clare family is without a home after a residential fire Saturday evening led nearly two-dozen fire agencies to work collectively to fight the flames in the rural unincorporated town, an effort which officials said was made more challenging due to the heat wave and no nearby fire hydrants.
Area fire and police agencies responded to reports of a house on fire in the 5900 block of West Clare Road in Clare around 5:35 p.m. Saturday, according to a news release from the Sycamore Fire Department. Fighting the fire was made “very challenging,” officials said in the release Sunday, due to the rural area having no fire hydrants, as well as the drought-like heat wave the region is experiencing.
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Flames from a fire can be seen through the roof of a home in the 5900 block of West Clare Road in the unincorporated DeKalb County township of Clare Saturday evening, June 12, 2021. The home was deemed uninhabitable and a family was relocated. (Photo provided) (Provided)
Residents were able to evacuate the home in time, along with surrounding neighbors, and no injuries were reported. However, the home is deemed uninhabitable due to the damage and the family has been relocated. Fire officials determined the home’s damage to be worth about $100,000.
Before arriving, crews could see from several miles away a large column of black smoke coming from the area. When crews arrived, there was heavy smoke and flames coming from the rear south end and west sides of the home, a two-story single family building. The flames had also gone into the attic, officials said.
There was also a nearby 500-gallon propane tank on the property which had been exposed to heat from the fire. Firefighters worked to cool it as another team began to attack the fire from the outside with hand hoses.
Since Clare is in unincorporated DeKalb County, the area doesn’t have fire hydrants, officials said, so crews from nearly two-dozen surrounding agencies set up what’s known as a water tender shuttle to provide water for the hoses. The system sets up a tank which can be filled with water near the site, water is dumped into the tank and used for the operation, and then constantly refilled until the fire is put out.
“The lack of water for fire suppression, the heat and humidity, limited manpower, overhead power lines, and access to the attic space made the extinguishment of this fire very challenging,” Sycamore fire officials said in the release.
Once the fire on the outside of the home was extinguished, crews were able to begin work inside, and firefighters remained on the scene for about an hour and a half longer to conduct overhaul operations and check the building for structural damage.
About a third of the building is structurally unstable due to the fire, officials said, and the entire second floor, along with much of the ground level of the home is heavily damaged from heat, smoke and water. The basement of the home was damaged due to water run-off.
Jessie Lynn, of Clare, is a neighbor of the family who lost their home and said crews battled the flames for about 5 hours before it was under control. A group of community members is also working to set up some financial support and collect household items and clothing for the family, who lost much of their possessions.
“It was very traumatic,” Lynn said, adding that the family’s pets were also evacuated in time.
In addition to Sycamore, fire department agencies from DeKalb, Cortland, Genoa-Kingston, Hampshire, Burlington, Elburn, Batavia, Kirkland, Maple Park, Waterman, Malta, Marengo, Creston, Huntley, Monroe Center, Rutland Dundee, St. Charles, Rochelle, North Aurora, Somonauk and Sugar Grove assisted, along with the DeKalb County Sheriffs Department and ComEd.
Investigators believe the fire doesn’t appear to have been caused by anything suspicious at this time, though the investigation continues, according to a news release from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. No damage was reported to surrounding homes.
Kelsey Rettke is the editor of the Daily Chronicle, part of Shaw Media and DeKalb County's only daily newspaper devoted to local news, crime and courts, government, business, sports and community coverage. Kelsey also covers breaking news for Shaw Media Local News Network.