Extra-alarm fire guts grocery store in Chicago’s Irving Park
Antonia Villeges watched in disbelief as flames that engulfed Windy City Produce, a grocery store in the Irving Park neighborhood where she has been working for more than three years.
“I ran here as fast as I could,” said Villeges, 23, who lives nearby. “I panicked.”
Villeges and other neighbors said they awoke to a giant cloud of black smoke outside their homes as an extra-alarm fire ripped through the store at 3340 N. Pulaski Road.
The fire started about 3:40 a.m., and flames had spread throughout the building by the time crews arrived, according to Chicago Fire Cmdr. Frank Velez.
The fire was raised to a 2-11 alarm as about 100 fire department personnel were called to the scene, Velez said. The blaze was struck out at 5:34 a.m. and no injuries were reported, Velez said.
“The building itself is completely damaged,” Velez said. “There was an extensive amount of damage.”
The cause of the fire was under investigation, officials said.
One of the grocery store’s owners stood with the residents, watching the firefighters.
“It’s totally lost,” said the man, who declined to be identified, adding that the grocery store has been around for about 35 years.
Fire destroys firefighter couple’s South Pekin home
As trained firefighters, a South Pekin couple didn’t panic when mounting flames and smoke suddenly confronted them in their one-story home Friday morning.
Loyalty to their five pet cats and rabbit, favorites of their two young daughters, still tugged at Anthony and Heather DeCesaro. They saved one cat, firefighters rescued three more, but the fifth cat died with the rabbit in the blaze that destroyed their home.
Flames that apparently erupted from faulty electrical wiring raced from the basement to the roof of the home at 106 Elm St. within minutes after the couple discovered the fire at about 10:20 a.m.
To check a circuit breaker that had tripped a second time after he reset it, Anthony turned toward the basement.
“As soon as I opened the door” to the basement stairs, “the whole house filled up” with smoke, as flames rose towards him, he said.
The couple, both volunteers with the Schaefferville Fire Department, fled, though Heather briefly remained near the front door “on my hands and knees, trying to lure the cats out,” until billowing smoke forced her away, she said.
The fifth cat was later found dead near the door. The surviving pets were taken for treatment to a Pekin animal hospital, Heather said.
Fire leaves Barrington Hills home uninhabitable
There were no civilian injuries Saturday in a five-alarm fire in Barrington Hills that firefighters still were battling hours after it was reported. The Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District received the initial call about 2:38 p.m. for a possible structure fire at 24 Rolling Hills Drive in Barrington Hills, Chief Jeff Swanson said at the scene. Upon arrival, crews found a “large volume of fire in the rear of the structure that had communicated into the attic,” he said.
Crews initially were ordered inside to fight the blaze, but heat conditions forced them out to work defensively, Swanson added. A distant view of the back side of the building showed a decimated roof, still smoking fairly heavily hours after the first call.
Swanson said a call for additional tenders came after the fifth alarm was pulled, as the home is “in one of the many un-hydrated areas in the fire district.”
The flames spread to the field behind the residence for a time, but the brush fire was extinguished quickly, according to a news release from the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District. The home, Swanson estimated, is about 8,000 to 10,000 square feet.
“It’s a big building and it was a big fire,” he said.
Jacksonville’s newest firefighter takes top academy spot
It turns out Jacksonville’s newest firefighter is a bit of a hot shot.
Joseph Hosteny graduated from the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute’s firefighter coursework Friday. As the 28 participants from fire departments across Illinois who successfully completed the training were receiving their recognition for completing the academy work, Hosteny was given some extra recognition.
He was honored with the Howard “Doc” Eskridge Academic Excellence Award, which is given to the cadet with the highest grade point average at graduation.
The Illinois Basic Firefighter/NFPA Firefighter Academy is conducted over seven weeks at the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute’s Champaign campus. The course is designed to prepare firefighters to develop skills and knowledge necessary for entry-level personnel to become functioning members of a fire company.
The course teaches firefighters basic firefighting skills for single-family dwellings and commercial buildings, as well as rescue techniques. The program uses realistic live-fire evolutions to encourage students to master basic skills and work safely and efficiently on the fireground.
Firefighters work with those with disabilities
Some local first responders are learning how best to handle emergencies involving people with special needs.
An emergency situation can cause distress for anyone, but people with certain disabilities may experience added stress when facing sirens and lights. One group is hoping to ease those tensions, starting at the kitchen table.
They are not preparing a gourmet meal, but this cooking class at the Center for Enriched Living is designed to teach a far more valuable lesson.
"The Center for Enriched Living is a social enrichment, continuing education center for people of all ages with developmental disabilities," said Harriet Oevy, executive director of the Center for Enriched Living.
Firefighters from north suburban Deerfield and Lincolnshire are working to become more familiar with disability issues.
"Often times, we're training doing EMS. We're training doing fire. How often do we train responding to an adult with a medical emergency that has special needs and often times we're not versed in handling that situation?" said Micah Montondo, Deerfield Fire Department.
WLS-TV ABC 7 Chicago