Investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office and Palatine Rural Fire Protection District Wednesday morning began sifting through the remains of a charred mansion in Inverness.
It may be a couple of days before officials determine what caused the three-alarm blaze that took roughly 100 firefighters from at least two dozen suburban departments more than two hours to extinguish Tuesday afternoon, a fire official said.
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Two firefighters had been hospitalized, the second level of the home was nearly gone and officials said the house had sustained at least $1 million in damages.
The homeowner, Per Caesius, and his 16-year-old son both escaped uninjured, but he said they lost basically everything. A second son, 18, was not home at the time.
Palatine Rural Fire Protection District firefighters responded to the fire on Carnoustie Lane, south of the intersection of Palatine and Ela roads, shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, said Capt. Jeff Dill. When the fire was elevated to a three-alarm response, at least 25 departments responded.
Caesius said he was home from work and downstairs when he heard his son screaming that there was a fire.
"I ran upstairs and it looked like it was a small fire on the roof or outside," Caesius said, describing the flames he saw coming out of the extra room over the home's garage.
"It didn't look so bad from there," he said.
He ran outside to get a better look, and that's when he saw that the entire roof was on fire.
"It just escalated so quickly," he said.
He got his son out but wasn't able to get back inside to save any photos or personal belongings.
"Anything that's not gone is wet," Caesius said. "All the photos and memorabilia from when the kids were little is gone. I don't care about the house. I'll rebuild the house. But I can't get those things back."
Because of the high temperatures and flames, two Palatine Rural firefighters were taken to Northwest Community Hospital with heat exhaustion, Dill said. They were released later that night. Even after officials called the fire out, firefighters were still spraying water on the smoldering remains of the home as of 8 p.m.
The street does not have fire hydrants, so water had to be pumped into the area, something that Caesius said seemed to take a long time.
There are only nine homes on the block and nearly all the neighbors were outside Tuesday afternoon talking with the homeowner, bringing water to the emergency responders and trying to help.
At one point officials were concerned about the home next door because of flying embers, Dill said. A small fire broke out on the roof of that home, but it was quickly extinguished.
Many of the area fire departments also fought a large house fire in Barrington last week.
"It's been a rough stretch over this last week with the heat," Dill said.
Departments assisting with equipment or personnel included Elgin, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, East Dundee, Elk Grove Village, Elk Grove Township, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows and Algonquin-Lake in the Hills.
• Daily Herald staff writers Mick Zawislak and Madhu Krishnamurthy contributed to this story.