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Explosive fire in Coal City causes $45,000 damage

House, trees, railroad tracks also burned in blaze

COAL CITY — Property damages from a fire in Coal City midday Monday, April 9, involving a shed and nearby trees, have been estimated at approximately $45,000.

The homeowner at 515 N. Fifth Avenue, Coal City, was reportedly burning scrap wood pieces in a burn barrel about 5 to 6 feet away from a shed on his property around 11:30 a.m. The wind likely spread the fire to pine needles on the ground, according to Coal City Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Greg DeGroot.

As Coal City firefighters responded, they were able to see smoke and fire coming from the rear of the residence. The homeowners had evacuated the house prior to firefighters' arrival.

The flames eventually spread to the shed and about 10 nearby trees, DeGroot said. They also spread to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks behind the home and a few ties caught fire, too.

Train travel was not interrupted.

"There were several explosions," DeGroot said.

Along with the various tools and lawn equipment the homeowner stored in the shed, there were containers of gasoline, kerosene and propane inside, as well, DeGroot said, causing the explosions.

The shed was detached from the house, but the siding was melted on the backside of the home. DeGroot said the damage to the house was not enough to cause the residents to relocate.

"The shed is gone," he said.

One minor injury was reported to a firefighter, who was treated and released by Emergency Medical Services.

Coal City received mutual aid from Morris, Braidwood, Wilmington and Braceville Fire Protection Districts, as well as Morris EMS.

The National Weather Service in Chicago issued a red flag warning for low relative humidity and strong winds Monday from 12 to 7 p.m.

"A No Burn Order is in effect for all of Coal City and surrounding areas in Grundy County," Coal City Fire Chief James Sheldon said. "Please watch for these when weather is dry and warm."

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