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Fires claim seven lives in Ogle County

Seven Ogle County residents have lost their lives in two house fires within two weeks.

Two adults and four children – all members of the same family – died in a house fire at 204 N. Miami Drive in Lost Nation shortly after midnight on Nov. 21.

Timothy Shaw, 39, and his wife Melissa, 37, and their children, Ethen, 17, LeAnne, 15, Hailey, 12, and Dylan, 11, died in the fire. Lost Nation is on the Ogle-Lee county line.

Leaf River firefighter Greg Wood, 19, died Nov. 10 in a fire that destroyed his family’s home at 209 W. Second St., Leaf River.

His father, Marcus Wood, 43, and brother, Travis, 16, were also seriously injured in the blaze and were hospitalized. His mother, Nicole, was treated and released.

Both fires remain under investigation, Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle said Monday.

According to the sheriff’s department, Ethan Shaw called 911 shortly after midnight, reporting there was smoke in the basement and he was trapped. 

When firefighters arrived, the house was fully engulfed.

Autopsies determined that all of the victims died of smoke inhalation, according to Ogle County Coroner Louis Finch.

One of the bodies was found on the second floor, four were found on the first floor, and one was located in the basement.

Dixon Public Schools Superintendent Margo Empen said the four children all attended Dixon schools – two attended Dixon High, one Reagan Middle, and one Madison Elementary.

“We are extremely saddened by the loss of members of our Dixon public school family. We have counselors at buildings providing support to students and staff,” Empen said.

The sheriff’s department, state fire marshal and the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Unit are investigating.

Authorities haven’t found anything suspicious about the fire, VanVickle told The Associated Press last week.

It took firefighters 17 minutes from the time the call was made to make it to the scene, and by the time they arrived, the two-story home, which had an attached garage, was fully involved, Dixon Rural Fire Capt. Isaac Dimmig said. 

Dixon City, Franklin Grove, Sterling, Polo, Ashton, Oregon, and Mt. Morris fire departments also responded.

Visitation for the family will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Elks Lodge, 1279 Franklin Grove Rd. Dixon,, with the funeral at 11 a.m. the next day at the lodge.

Burial, with military honors for Tim, will follow at Oakwood Cemetery in Dixon, she said.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial will be established through Preston-Schilling Funeral Home to help defray expenses.

An autopsy determined that Wood also died from smoke inhalation.

Funeral services for him were held on Saturday, and firefighters from all over northern Illinois and as far away as Iowa came to pay their respects.

His father, the deputy chief of the Leaf River’s volunteer fire department, and brother, a cadet firefighter, have been released from Rockford hospitals.

The cause of that fire, which occurred around 12:30 a.m., has not been determined. Investigators have said it is not suspicious.

Fifteen area fire departments also responded to the fire.

Vinde Wells contributed to this story.

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