A fire that possibly started in a grill Wednesday afternoon turned into an extra alarm blaze that damaged two homes along the Fox River in an unincorporated area near Crystal Lake, fire officials said.
Firefighters responded to the call at about 3:45 p.m. on the 4200 block of Riverside Drive. Witnesses reported hearing an explosion, which was likely the grill's propane tank, Nunda Rural Fire Protection District Fire Chief William Hoover said.
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The fire quickly spread through the two-story single-family home and to the outside of a neighboring home.
Nobody was home at the house where the fire started, while the family of the second home was able to escape, Hoover said. Nobody was injured.
Hoover credited the department's new piece of equipment -- a turbo draft that allows firefighters to pull water from the Fox River -- in minimizing the damage to the second home.
"It's an area that doesn't have fire hydrants, so that really helped us out a lot," Hoover said. "Any time we can get a positive water source like that, it gives us a tremendous advantage to putting the fire out."
The three-alarm fire brought firefighters from Nunda, Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Fox Lake, Huntley, Harvard, Cary, Fox River Grove, Union, Countryside, Richmond, Spring Grove, Lake Villa, Antioch, Hampshire, Wauconda, Marengo, Buffalo Grove, McHenry, Long Grove, Hoffman Estates, Palatine and Lakewood.
The first home was severely damaged, as well as a nearby shed and a smaller fence. It was deemed uninhabitable, Hoover said.
The second home was moderately damaged but still habitable, he said. No damage estimates were available.
The fire remains under investigation as fire officials examine why a grill would catch fire at an unoccupied home.
"No clue, the investigators are looking into it," Hoover said. "I don't know how that could possibly happen."