Three firefighters suffered minor injuries Tuesday night while battling a two-alarm fire that severely damaged a large two-story house in the unincorporated Steeple Run neighborhood near Naperville.
Firefighters spent more than eight hours at the scene of the blaze that apparently started in the basement of the roughly 4,000-square-foot house on the 24W700 block of Ohio Street and quickly spread all the way into the attic, Lisle-Woodridge Fire District Deputy Chief Dan Anderson said Wednesday.
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The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. Anderson said authorities fear the $650,000 house may be a total loss.
The homeowners, Peter and Kathy Seegebrecht and their two teenage boys, are longtime Naperville-area residents who moved into the Ohio Street house just before Thanksgiving. Several family members were home at the time of the fire and escaped unharmed.
They are now staying with Kathy's sister, Joanne Sale, who said friends already are providing clothes, shoes and other items for the displaced family.
But while "all the humans are safe and out," Sale said, the family remains concerned about the fate of two of their three cats.
One of the cats, Charlie, was rescued from the house, but two other orange tabbies, Tom and Jerry, are still missing. Sale said the family is putting up fliers hoping for the cats' safe return.
Anderson said the homeowners called 911 about 3:40 p.m. Tuesday and firefighters arrived to find smoke coming from around the corner of the house.
The first crews on the scene made their way into the fully finished basement to battle the blaze but were forced to retreat when the ceiling began to collapse.
The combination of the intensity of the fire and the fear of a ceiling collapse made it difficult for firefighters, he said, and they called for a high-expansion foam unit from the Lyons Fire Department. When that team arrived, firefighters filled the basement with foam and water to bring most of the fire under control.
Several hot spots remained, however, and forced some firefighters to stay on the scene until nearly midnight to ensure the fire didn't reignite.
Anderson said two Lisle-Woodridge firefighters and one from Naperville were injured. One firefighter got debris in his eye, Anderson said, and two others suffered from exhaustion.
Investigators were on the scene Wednesday, but Anderson said crews must stabilize the first floor before the probe can be completed.
The residents will not be able to return to the house anytime soon, if at all.
Sale said the family has been told the building likely will have to be razed and they will have to start from scratch.
"This was a very stubborn fire," Anderson said. "It was a long day for us and a very long day for the residents."