Investigators have determined that a lightning strike was the cause of Tuesday's house fire on Terra Vita Drive in South Barrington, as was initially suspected. Damage to the house and its contents is estimated at $1 million, Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie said.
Though the house is still standing, Arie said Wednesday there are structural integrity issues that may make it more cost-effective to tear it down and completely rebuild. That's a question that will likely have to be worked out between the owners and their insurance company, he said.
The Barrington Fire Department received the call at 12:10 p.m. Tuesday. Firefighters learned en route that flames were coming through the roof, but that the occupants were safely out.
Homeowner Sargon Boudakh, who had been at work at the time, joined his family outside the house while firefighters were still battling the blaze. His wife, 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son had been home when the lightning bolt hit, but got out uninjured. Another 8-year-old daughter was at a friend's house.
Because there are not fire hydrants in the area, firefighters relied on pumper trucks for water.
Crews who initially entered the house were forced back out by a backdraft that caused a partial collapse of a rear portion of the roof. The fire continued to spread through the entire attic space. Because of the rapid spread of the fire, commanders ordered a defensive operation. Multiple hot spots in hidden areas slowed the extinguishing of the fire.
Eight departments were initially called and were later joined by 10 more. The alarm was upgraded due to the extreme heat and humidity at the time of the fire.