Lots of stuff in Arlington Heights house fuels destructive fire
A lot of stuff inside an Arlington Heights house apparently helped fuel the fire that destroyed it overnight Friday.
Firefighters remained outside the house on the 800 block of North Kaspar Avenue throughout much of Friday, continually putting out hot spots as they flared up.
By Friday night, firefighters said, fire operations ceased, and the building was torn down. After firefighters left the scene, police still had both sides of the street cordoned off.
The house was unoccupied when the fire broke out before midnight on Thursday, authorities said. Neighbors said the homeowner lived alone and returned to his house around 2 a.m. to see it up in flames.
Without describing the contents, Arlington Heights Fire Department officials said a "high fire content load" inside the two-story, single-family home kept the fire burning long after the first firefighting crews arrived on scene about 11:45 p.m. Thursday.
At least one fire truck remained at the house Friday morning and afternoon, dousing flames as they flared up, in an otherwise ice-covered structure that was deemed a total loss by fire department officials.
A demolition crew was sent to the house to take down pieces of the charred remains, allowing fire investigators to enter the house to begin investigating what caused the blaze.
Fire department Lt. Will Rodgers said investigators weren't able to get inside the house Friday morning because of the flare-ups.
Police Cmdr. Nathan Hayes said that at this point, the fire doesn't appear suspicious.
"Nothing's been forwarded to my side," said Hayes, who heads the police department's criminal investigations division.
A neighbor was the first to report the fire to authorities.
"I was asleep in bed and I woke up to the bright light from the fire," said Eric Wennerberg, who lives next door. "My bathroom window faces his house, and I put my hand on it and it was warm. I grabbed my two girls and the dog and left quickly."
Rodgers said the homeowner is staying with relatives in the area.
No major injuries were reported, though some firefighters were treated for minor slips and falls due to the icy conditions, Rodgers said.
Authorities said fire was coming through the roof and first- and second-floor windows when they arrived. But firefighters were unable to make entry into the house due to the excessive flames and heat.
The below-zero overnight temperatures also presented a challenge for fire crews, who were unable to use the nearest hydrant because it was frozen. After accessing a working hydrant some 300 feet away, firefighters extended a master stream hose line and three hand lines into the burning house, and were able to contain the blaze without it spreading to nearby houses, officials said.
Still, officials are looking to see whether nearby houses experienced water damage.
Some 15 fire trucks and nearly 30 firefighters worked the fire, rotating throughout the early morning. Arlington Heights fire officials called for assistance from other area departments, including Buffalo Grove, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Rolling Meadows.
• Daily Herald photographer Bob Chwedyk contributed to this report.