Cause of Sugar Grove fire still undetermined

  • North Aurora Fire Chief Steve Miller escorts a resident away from her burning home after fire engulfed a four-unit townhouse building Wednesday on Capitol Drive in Sugar Grove. It displaced residents from three of the units. A cause has not been determined.

      North Aurora Fire Chief Steve Miller escorts a resident away from her burning home after fire engulfed a four-unit townhouse building Wednesday on Capitol Drive in Sugar Grove. It displaced residents from three of the units. A cause has not been determined. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • A fire engulfed a four-unit townhouse building Wednesday on Capitol Drive in Sugar Grove. The cause has not been determined. Two of the townhouses were declared uninhabitable, and the third was condemned.

      A fire engulfed a four-unit townhouse building Wednesday on Capitol Drive in Sugar Grove. The cause has not been determined. Two of the townhouses were declared uninhabitable, and the third was condemned. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Published8/6/2009 5:22 PM

Mike Nelson had just gotten home from work Wednesday afternoon when one of his three children walked down the street to pick up their mail.

She returned with a much more urgent message: Another townhouse in their complex was on fire, with flames showing through an open garage.

 

"It was absolutely incredible," Nelson said. "It spread so quickly."

Nelson's home, on the west side of the four-unit building, had minor smoke damage _ mainly, a lingering smell. His family is able to stay in it, unlike his neighbors.

Two of the four townhouses in it were declared uninhabitable by the Sugar Grove building inspector Thursday morning, due to smoke and water damage. The unit where the fire took place was tagged with a red "condemned" sign due to severe structural damage. Walls on the second floor are missing, siding melted, and the roof was chopped up by firefighters. The wooden frame bears scorch marks.

It will likely have to be torn down, according to inspector Michelle Noyes. It is possible to rebuild the middle unit without taking down the others, she said.

Pamela Graver, who lives on the east end of the complex, was consulting with fire cleanup specialists as they assessed her home and belongings. And she can now put a name with the face of a man she knew only by sight at the gym they both exercise at: Manny Coutinho. He is one of the neighbors who rescued her golden retriever, Bailey.

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Graver was not home at the time. Coutinho and another neighbor broke in through an open window to get the dog.

Graver said she didn't know how long it would take to fix up her townhouse; she is staying with relatives.

The fire started in the garage, said Martin Kunkel, chief of the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District. A cause had not been identified as of Thursday afternoon, but it is not believed to be suspicious, he said.

One of two cats living in the home was missing; the other was rescued by firefighters.

The Chicago chapter of the American Red Cross provided financial assistance to the residents, to take care of their needs for food, clothing and lodging for a few days.

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