Victor J. Kadis and his 12-year-old son had just finished hitting some baseballs by a retention pond near their Hoffman Estates home Saturday when they noticed something was wrong at a house on their street.
"We were walking back; we saw some black smoke," Kadis said. "And then we saw flames."
Kadis told his son, Victor M. Kadis, to take the bucket of balls back to their house, then ran toward the fire.
The pair's quick thinking in the minutes that followed, along with the help of some other neighbors, saved the house from extensive damage, said Mike Figolah, assistant chief of the Bartlett Fire Protection District.
The fire occurred around 12:30 p.m. at 2020 Bridlewood Drive, Figolah said. The cause of the fire hasn't been determined yet, he said, but some wiring for low voltage lighting found in mulch around the house and near a garbage can may have started it.
Figolah said the owners of the home and their next door neighbors were not around when the fire started.
Kadis said when he arrived at the scene, some girls sitting in a car on the street yelled to him and asked if he had called 911. He told them "No" and they made the call while he went to the source of the fire.
He said he found wood burning at the bottom of a recycling bin that had started to melt. The flames had spread about 10 feet up the home's vinyl siding and were getting dangerously close to the roof.
Kadis said he tried to move the recycling bin, but it was too hot, so he ran to get a neighbor's hose. Around that time, his son and another neighbor showed up with fire extinguishers.
"Something inside me told me to go get the fire extinguisher, even before I saw someone bring it out," his son Victor said. "My stomach hurt afterward. I was feeling kind of scared and excited at the same time."
Soon after the neighbors started taming the fire with water and the fire extinguishers, firefighters arrived and finished putting the fire out.
"We could have had a pretty substantial house fire," Figolah said, adding that the fire caused about $3,000 in damage. "They did a really good job."
Kadis said he was impressed that Victor didn't just stay at their home, and instead thought of a way to help without someone telling him what to do. "I'm proud of him," he said.
While Figolah praised neighbors actions in this case because the fire department had been called and it was outside, he offered words of caution. When a fire occurs, he said, it is vital to call 911 immediately and leave any buildings that might be affected.
"We don't want people fighting the fires," he said. "People can get severely injured or killed by delaying calling the fire department."
Figolah added that people should avoid smoking or grilling near mulch, as it can cause a fire like this one.
"Be careful. Mulch burns pretty easily," he said. "We haven't had a lot of rain and that mulch is really dry."