More than 50 firefighters from nine suburban departments battled a wind-powered brush fire Saturday that scorched about 10 acres of grass and marshland in Palatine's Deer Grove Forest Preserve.
Authorities Sunday said the blaze started accidentally, apparently by the improper disposal of smoking materials, Saturday afternoon near the intersection of Dee Lane and Preserve Drive, on the northeast corner of the 1,800-acre Cook County forest preserve.
The Palatine Fire Department was called to the scene at 4:34 p.m. and the first crew to arrive, an engine company from Lake Zurich responding under an aid agreement, found a small brush fire, officials said.
Spurred on by high winds and low humidity, fire officials said, the fire grew rapidly and the Palatine Fire Department deployed units to protect downwind exposures along Rand Road and Lake-Cook roads. The fire was stopped in those areas, but due to the dry, long grasses in the area flames began to burn back into the wind and in a crosswind direction toward homes along Brentwood Drive on the north side of the forest preserve, officials said.
Additional units from Palatine, along with wildland firefighters from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County's Department of Resource Management and Resident Watchmen, were summoned to protect the home as more fire departments were called to help. In all, more 50 firefighters staffing 23 apparatus of various kinds responded.
Palatine fire officials said the fire was difficult to fight because it was burning in marshland, and firefighters had to contend with water and mud up to 2 foot deep in addition to the flames.
Cook County Forest Preserve police assisted firefighters and with crowd control, and Palatine police officers went door-to-door to speak with nearby residents. Several residents chose to voluntarily evacuate as a precaution, but no mandatory evacuations were ordered, officials said.
No structures or vehicles were damaged in the fire, which was declared under control at 9:55 p.m. and out at 10:29 p.m. One firefighter was treated on the scene for a minor injury.
Other agencies that assisted included the Palatine Emergency Management Agency, Palatine Fire Rehab Team, Metro Emergency Support Services canteen, Palatine Public Works, and the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Fire departments that responded included the Palatine Rural, Long Grove, Prospect Heights, Algonquin-Lake in the Hills and Countryside Fire Protection Districts and the Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows and Arlington Heights Fire Departments. Itasca, Elk Grove Township and Streamwood provided units to stand by in Palatine fire stations to provide continuous coverage during the fire.