One person dead after Byron home is ‘electrified’ by downed power line

Downtown area was then without power as firefighters battle house fire in attempt to stop it from spreading

Crews from several area fire departments battled a house fire at 115 W. Third Street in Byron on Saturday morning. One woman was declared dead after being found outside the home after a power line fell on the house causing to become "electrified," a fire official said.

BYRON — One person is dead after a downed power line “electrified” a Byron home Saturday morning.

Byron Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Tony Dinges said his department was dispatched to 115 W. 3rd St. for a woman on the ground because of a possible electrocution.

“Our guys got on scene and the entire house was electrified. There was a 7,200 volt power line down on the house and had the whole house charged with electricity,” Dinges said. “So we were unable to make entry into the house.”

Dinges said firefighters also were unable to reach the victim because of the home being electrified.

“It is a fatality,” he said. “She was on the ground and we were unable to get to her or the house until ComEd could get onsite and shut the power down. She was not in the house, she was outside.”

He said once the power was shut down – which took about an hour – firefighters were able to battle the blaze and save other homes located on the same block.

Our guys got on scene and the entire house was electrified. There was a 7,200 volt power line down on the house and had the whole house charged with electricity. So we were unable to make entry into the house.”

—  Tony Dinges, deputy fire chief in Byron

“The house was on fire and we went to a third alarm,” he said. “We were able to save the home here on the right hand side.”

Heavy snow fell across the region early Saturday followed by brisk winds. Dinges said he thought the fallen line likely was because of the weather.

The home is located a block north of Byron’s downtown, across the street from the city’s post office.

The entire downtown area, including homes and businesses along Illinois Route 2 two blocks south of the fire, were without power following the incident knocking out the three traffic signals in the town of 3,700.

Fire departments from nearby towns including Oregon, Mt. Morris, Stillman Valley, Polo and Pecatonica were called in for mutual aid. Byron fire chaplains also were on scene.

Several ComEd crews could be seen working on lines near the charred home while other ComEd workers were still arriving to help restore electricity to the town, located nine miles north of Oregon.

A ComEd worker on scene could not comment, but said crews were responding to multiple weather-related issues.

Holly Zumbragel, the manager at the Casey’s store on Route 2, said the store lost power shortly after the incident. She brought cartons of doughnuts and bottle water to the firefighters who were still on the scene at 11 a.m.

“We cleared out our shelves to do what we could to help,” she said.

The fire department issued a news release late Saturday afternoon stating the fire was being investigated by the state fire marshal’s office. Sixteen area fire departments assisted at the scene in addition to the Byron Police Department, Ogle County Sheriff’s Department, Byron Public Works and the Ogle County Coroner’s Office, according to the release.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen oversees production and content of 9 community weeklies and has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.