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updated: 5/31/2011 5:19 PM

Fire claims disabled woman near Crystal Lake

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A disabled woman was killed in an early morning fire Tuesday near Crystal Lake, officials said.

Firefighters were called to a house in the 1800 block of Route 176 in unincorporated Nunda Township at 5:56 a.m., Nunda Rural Fire Chief William Hoover said. Margaret M. Komperda, a 64-year-old amputee who used a prosthetic leg, was trapped inside.

Neighbors of the woman, including an off-duty firefighter from Wauconda, tried to get inside the home to save the woman after seeing the fire, Hoover said, but the flames were so hot they were pushed back. Wauconda firefighter Pete Jablonski said his roommate entered the house but couldn't see anything because of the smoke and flames. The roommate ran next door and got Jablonski, who had some of his fire gear in the garage.

"By the time we got back, one minute later, the fire had spread and was blowing out the back door," Jablonski said. Their attempts to break through a door were unsuccessful. "Within two minutes, the fire was so intense that we couldn't stand by it," Jablonski said.

When firefighters arrived, there were heavy flames on the first floor. Margaret's husband, James Komperda, 69, already was out of the home, Hoover said.

He was injured in the fire and was taken to Centegra Hospital in McHenry, Hoover said. His injuries were not life-threatening, according to Hoover; a more precise condition was not available.

Firefighters took about six minutes to put out the main fire, then spent the next 30 minutes putting out smaller fires in the residence. Nunda Rural was assisted at the scene by firefighters from Algonquin, Cary, Crystal Lake, McHenry, Lake Zurich and Wauconda.

Because of the severity of the fire, authorities shut down Route 176 for about 2 hours, redirecting rush hour traffic through a nearby subdivision, Hoover said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Nunda Rural firefighters, McHenry County Sheriff's detectives and investigators from the state fire marshal's office are continuing to examine evidence on the scene, Hoover said.

The home was just seven or eight buildings down from the Nunda Rural fire station, Hoover said.

"Our agency feels for the loss," Hoover said. "The (firefighters) did everything they could."

The fire caused about $100,000 in damage and left the home uninhabitable, Hoover said.

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