Man killed, wife critically injured this morning in Sterling house fire

STERLING – A 71-year-old man died and his wife is in critical condition after a house fire this morning in the 1400 block of Johnson Avenue, south of Sterling High School.

When firefighters arrived about 3 a.m., they found the two-story home “well involved,” Chief Mike Dettman said in a news release.

The man was trapped in the rear first-floor bedroom, but rescue crews were able to reach and retrieve him before he was taken to CGH Medical Center. He later was taken to Loyola Hospital, where he died, Dettman said in the release.

The rescued man’s wife also was taken to CGH, where has been listed in critical condition. Names are being withheld pending notification of relatives, Dettman said in the release.

Officials said the fire appears to have begun in the front of the home and spread rapidly through the first floor. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state Fire Marshal, Illinois Crime Scene Technicians, the Sterling Fire Department and the Sterling Police Department.

The fire is believed to be “strictly accidental at this point,” Dettman said in the release.

Crews from Sterling, Rock Falls, Dixon City, Dixon Rural and Milledgeville fire departments were on scene for about 5 hours.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.