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Explosion, fire destroy Morris home

Value of loss placed at $1 million

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 1:39 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 8:56 a.m. CST
(Photo courtesy of Morris Fire Protection & Ambulance District)
As soon as they opened the doors of Fire Station 2, Morris firefighters could see the glow in the sky from this house fire on Barrington Road. The blaze, which destroyed the home and its contents, began with a garage explosion shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday.

A fire that started with an explosion has destroyed the Barrington Road house belonging to a couple who were out of town.

"We didn't have life-safety rescue issues when (the fire department) pulled up because they were out of town, which was good because life rescue would have been impossible with the amount of fire we had," said Morris Fire Chief Tracey Steffes while still on scene Tuesday afternoon.

Steffes said the insurance company placed the loss of the house, garage, cars and contents at $1 million.

The call came in at about 3:17 a.m. Tuesday as a garage fire at 5805 N. Barrington Road. The fire completely engulfed the house.

"As soon as they opened the (fire station) doors they could see the glow in the sky, so they immediately bumped up the box fire alarm," Steffes said.

Morris Fire & Ambulance Protection District's Fire Station 2 is located on Ashton Road, not far down U.S. 6 from Barrington Road.

When firefighters got on scene, there was fire on the first and second floors. The garage door and walls had been blown out, so firefighters knew there was an explosion. But the cause has not yet been determined, Steffes said.

"Neighbors confirm they heard a large explosion," he said. "One neighbor to the east thought there was an earthquake because the house shook."

Tuesday afternoon, burned car debris could be seen surrounded by the collapsed garage walls. Behind where the garage used to be stood remnants of a house, with just a portion of the structure still standing.

Nicor was on scene with firefighters to see if there was a gas-related problem.

"They've checked the pipe pressure in front of the street and the neighborhood is safe," Steffes said."If there is a problem, it's tied to this one residence."

The neighborhood does not have water hydrants, other than one on the residential well, which couldn't produce enough water flow to extinguish the fire, so water tankers were brought in. Minooka, Coal City, Wilmington, Lisbon, Mazon, Newark and Marseilles fire departments all assisted. Steffes said once the companies were set up, there was plenty of water.

No one was injured in the incident and neighbors did not have to be evacuated.

"There is a high-value loss here, but no loss of life and that is what's important," said the chief.

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