3 occupants displaced by Wednesday morning basement fire on Harlan Drive
4 outside departments responded to second alarm fire
ROCHELLE — Three occupants were displaced as the result of a basement fire on South Harlan Drive in Rochelle on Wednesday morning, Rochelle Fire Department Lt. Jeremy Good said.
No injuries were seen to occupants or firefighters as a result of the fire, but one cat passed away on scene and another was transported to Rochelle Veterinary Hospital.
Local first responders were dispatched to 5267 S. Harlan Drive at 9:42 a.m. for the report of smoke and a possible structure fire at a home with two cars in the driveway with possible people inside. Good said there were no occupants home at the time of the fire and the adult occupant was on a walk at the time. Two children live at the residence as well and were not home, he said.
Rochelle Fire and Ogle-Lee Fire Protection District officials found heavy smoke conditions on the first floor upon arrival. It was then determined that the fire’s source was in the basement.
“The basement could only be accessed from the garage and that posed some hazards for us,” Good said. “A below-grade fire is one of the most dangerous things we do. We went to the second alarm with outside agencies due to the concerns we had with that and possible people inside. After we determined no one was inside, we used hand lines to put the fire out after we located it.”
Good said the home sustained “pretty significant” damage due to the fire and said that a rough damage estimate was $60,000-70,000.
“The fire had burned in the basement long enough that a lot of the floor joists in the basement burned up,” Good said. “On our initial push through the front door, the floor was really spongy. The initial company did a great job putting a knock on the fire and conducting searches and everything. For monetary damage, it’s a pretty significant number because it burned for some time in the basement without anybody knowing. The first floor has smoke damage, but all of the possessions on that floor were saved. The occupants are renters.”
The Red Cross got involved to help the displaced residents with housing for the time being, Good said.
The area of the fire did have hydrants for fire personnel to access due to it being annexed into the City of Rochelle in recent years.
Responding departments included the OLFPD stations of Hillcrest, Steward, Creston and Flagg Center, and DeKalb, Shabbona, Stillman Valley and Ashton.
The state fire marshal and RFD investigators were on scene to investigate the cause of the fire Wednesday afternoon and no potential cause was immediately apparent, Good said.
“They did have working smoke detectors in the house,” Good said. “The neighbors called it in and were kind of watching the area, so that was good. It was a good stop by the initial company. They did a great job.”