A Round Lake Beach teen in the right place at the right time early Friday was able to alert neighbors their home was on fire, allowing them to escape safely before the situation intensified.
Austin Basala, 17, said he was driving a friend home about 12:50 a.m. on Pheasant Ridge Court in Round Lake Beach when he spotted the fire.
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"I looked in my mirror and I see some weird smoke," he said. Basala said he turned the car around and noticed flames coming from the home's attic area.
His friend, Danny Fill, called 911 as Basala ran to the front door of the two-story home in the Country Walk subdivision, located in the northwestern part of the village.
"I just kept pounding on it," said Basala, who lives nearby on Blue Grass Court and knows the house, as another of his friends lives there.
The door was locked but some of the four occupants were awake, according to Basala, because they had smelled smoke about 30 minutes earlier but could not find the source.
When the door opened, Basala let it be known the house was on fire and everyone was able to get out safely. No injuries were reported.
Fire Marshal Doug Zeigler of the Round Lake Fire Protection District said the fire started in the attic and its cause remains under investigation. He estimated the fire damage at a few thousand dollars but added there also was an undetermined amount of smoke and water damage.
Fire was coming from the front ease when firefighters arrived but "it looked mush worse than it was," Zeigler said.
"I'm just happy it's OK. I was so scared when I saw there were flames coming of the house," Basala said.
He said the occupants were appreciative, one even telling him he had saved their lives.
"I don't really feel that way but if they feel that way, it's cool," he said.