Lightning rarely sparks blazes like Barrington Hills mansion fire
Lightning may be to blame for a fire that tore through a nearly 9,000-square-foot Barrington Hills home after violent storms pushed through the region early Thursday morning.
If that's confirmed, it would put the blaze among the rarest categories of residential fires, according to national studies.
According to a 2013 report by the National Fire Protection Association, lightning started an estimated average of 22,600 fires per year during the five-year period from 2007 through 2011.
While most of those fires occurred outdoors, the majority of deaths, injuries and property damage came from house fires, the report states.
Lightning-related fires are most common in June through August and during the late afternoon and evening hours, the NFPA found.
According to U.S. Fire Administration data from 2006 to 2015, about 1.6 percent of residential fires started as a result of "natural" causes. That includes lightning, as well as the sun's heat, spontaneous ignition, chemicals, static discharge, high winds, storms, animals and natural disasters. Cooking is by far the most common cause, accounting for just over half of residential fires nationally.
On Thursday, firefighters from the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District and about 20 other departments spent roughly two hours getting the fire on Paganica Drive under control.
A woman, who was the only person inside, escaped unharmed with her dog, Fire Chief Jim Kreher said. Her husband was out of town. No firefighters were injured battling the blaze.
Neighbors reported hearing a loud boom during the night, before firefighters were called to the scene about 4:40 a.m., when the homeowner spotted flames, Kreher said.
"We were here in less than five minutes and (the fire) was through the roof already," he said.
While most of the damage occurred to the roof, the house was left uninhabitable by the fire, officials said. A monetary estimate of the damage was not determined.
Because the neighborhood has no fire hydrants, firefighters set up a "rural fire operation" that involved bringing water to the scene in transport vehicles known as tenders, officials said. At no time was water supply lost, according to the fire district.
• Daily Herald staff writers Lee Filas and Chacour Koop contributed to this report.