ROCHELLE — A Sunday afternoon basement fire at a home on North 11th Street in Rochelle ended with no injuries to its residents or pets, Rochelle Fire Department Chief Dave Sawlsville said.
At about 12:35 p.m. Rochelle Fire was called to a report of heavy smoke at 956 N. 11th Street. First responders to the scene were told by the homeowner that the fire was in the basement and took a hose line down and found “really thick, black smoke” that they were unable to see through, Sawlsville said.
A thermal imaging camera was used to locate the fire in the corner of the basement and aerosol cans started to explode in the area of the fire.
“They located the area and were able to get a good knock on that,” Sawlsville said. “On Sundays, sometimes staffing is a little short. We ended up having to call mutual aid companies from Ogle-Lee Fire Protection District, Stillman Valley Fire and Lynn-Scott-Rock Fire. Ogle-Lee responded with an engine, Lynn-Scott-Rock brought an engine and Stillman Valley covered our station with an ambulance. The initial crew kept the fire confined to that corner.”
Sawlsville said fire crews were told on scene that there was a dog and a lizard still inside at the time of the fire. Both pets were located safely and are going to be OK, he said. The Rochelle Fire chief said the home is going to be OK structurally, but had heavy smoke damage throughout its interior.
The residents of the home are currently displaced while their home gets repaired and The Red Cross came and helped them with temporary housing. Sawlsville said the fire likely caused about $50,000 worth of damage.
Fire personnel are leaning towards a faulty water heater being the cause of the fire, Sawlsville said.
“The owner reported that he had problems with it before where it would make a banging noise,” Sawlsville said. “Water heaters aren't supposed to do that. We're thinking it was probably the water heater and combustibles too close to the water heater. I suspect the banging was an accumulation of gas and when it finally lit, it banged. That probably lit some surrounding stuff on fire. That's our preliminary theory.”
Sawlsville said he was thankful for the neighboring departments that helped with the Sunday afternoon incident.
“Even on a Sunday afternoon, Ogle-Lee, Lynn-Scott Rock and Stillman Valley all showed up,” Sawlsville said. “When we're busy with a fire, we still have an entire district to protect, so Stillman came with an ambulance and took that burden off us. That's very helpful to know that when something else pops up, you have someone to come and take care of that.”