While shopping in Vernon Hills, I received a phone call from my next door neighbor. "Where are you? Come home now. Our homes are about to go up in flames!" As we jumped into the car at Route 60 and Milwaukee, the person I was with pointed southeast and said, "There it is." We drove toward the billowing black smoke with hopes that we could at least get our dog to safety. As we approached the neighborhood, the roads were blocked. But, the police kindly allowed us access to our street and quickly assured us that no homes were on fire.
From that moment, we witnessed the unparalleled courage and coordination of firefighters from 20 towns (including Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Palatine, Vernon Hills, Highwood, Lake Zurich, Bannockburn, Highland Park, Lincolnshire/Riverwoods, Barrington, Libertyville, Long Grove, Prospect Heights, Mundelein, Countryside and Lake Forest). Our home was already under a steady cascade of water, the reeds and brush near the pond and burning wetlands were being doused hampering any advance of the flames. Dozens of firefighters attacked the fire with an encirclement strategy that was awesome, exacting and effective. Officer Robert Pakaski from the Buffalo Grove Police Department was a source of calm in our storm, talking with residents to keep us well-informed and calm and allowing us to retrieve our dog.
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Even while the ground still smoldered, ComEd crews were on site assessing the damage and starting repairs as quickly as allowable. They worked throughout the night, and by morning two new electrical poles had been erected. Crews continue their work today.
I know I speak for the whole community in expressing gratitude and thanks for such an outstanding response. To see firefighters rushing toward danger as we ran away is a deeply moving experience that will always remind me of the heroes that live among us.