Sparks from a grinding tool caused a blaze that eventually consumed about 20 acres of slough area Tuesday in Lake Villa Township.
A maintenance crew was working on one of the two railroad tracks west of Route 83 near Morton Lane when sparks ignited vegetation in the hard-to-access area, according to Lake Villa Fire Department Capt. Brock Millsop.
The crew tried to extinguish the blaze but wind and dry conditions caused it to spread, and firefighters were called about 12:21 p.m. Departments from Fox Lake, Round Lake, Grayslake, Antioch, Gurnee and Newport Township Fire Protection District were called to assist.
Though mainly a wetland area, dry cattails of up to an inch in diameter provided fuel, Millsop said.
"It's the fuel on top that concerns us," he said.
The fire was traveling north and east approaching a heavy tree line and residential and commercial area, he said.
Firefighters were on the scene for about 3½ hours, Millsop said. No injuries or property damage were reported.