A fire that started in the chimney of a single-family home Thursday morning on Gale Street in Elgin Township caused about $140,000 worth of damage to the house and its contents, according to South Elgin fire officials.
South Elgin Fire Chief Joe Cluchey said the fire got a head start because, like with so many houses, there was no smoke alarm in the attic. From the first floor, the two occupants were unaware of increasing damage above their heads.
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"You're burning firewood in the fireplace and you're not going to smell it or know it's a problem," Cluchey said.
South Elgin received the call just after 9:30 a.m. and soon called several other surrounding departments for assistance. Elgin, Pingree Grove, Elburn, Bartlett and West Dundee responded with firefighters and extra water.
Cluchey said the house is in an area with an unreliable water supply, prompting the need for reserves to be brought in. Though the extra water turned out to be unnecessary, the extra responders helped deal with the poor weather.
"A big opponent today was the environmental conditions," Cluchey said.
Gale Street and the driveway were covered in black ice with wind and cold only making things worse.
Four responders fell on the ice and one Pingree Grove firefighter was transported to Provena St. Joseph Hospital -- and later released -- after being treated for injuries sustained during a fall.
The fire took about 45 minutes to get under control, according to Cluchey, and firefighters stayed an extra couple hours to make sure the blown insulation didn't cause further problems.
Cluchey said the home is uninhabitable and the family has already made other living arrangements.
"They're not going to be in there anytime soon," Cluchey said.
Cluchey cautioned people with wood-burning stoves to keep their chimneys swept and install smoke alarms in attics to minimize the severity of fires like this one.