Firefighters from more than a dozen area fire departments fought not only flames but also bitterly cold weather conditions Jan. 30 at a house fire approximately eight miles northeast of Chana.
“We escalated the alarms because of the weather conditions to maximize equipment and manpower,” said Lynn-Scott-Rock Assistant Fire Chief Rick Mott.
Sheldon and Joyce Rueff safely escaped, along with their dog, from their burning home at 10134 E. Lindenwood Rd. just before 8 p.m.
“They smelled smoke, saw smoke, and their fire alarms were going off, so they called 911 and got out of the house,” Mott said.
The fire was well advanced when the first trucks arrived at the 10 to 15 year-old one-story home, which was a total loss.
“There was already heavy fire in the back on the exposed lower level,” Mott said.
Although the cause of the fire has not been definitely determined, Mott said a fire in the fireplace is suspected.
“We’re kind of zeroing in on that,” he said.
Sixty-three firefighters were on the scene with the mercury nearing -30 and wind chill in the -40s.
Mott said the engines pumping water froze up and had to be changed out, valves on engines were freezing open and shut, firefighters’ air packs were freezing up, and their face masks were freezing over.
“The firefighters on the front line were covered with ice,” he said. “Luckily, the winds had died down somewhat by then. It was like an ice rink. Several firefighters fell but fortunately no one was hurt.”
Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle brought the sheriff’s department’s command trailer to the scene to use as a warming facility for the firefighters.
Some local firefighters and equipment were unavailable because they had already been called to assist the West Suburban Fire Department at a fire that destroyed a Rockford Township building the same night.
Mutual aid to the Lynn-Scott-Rock Fire Department came from Oregon, Mt. Morris, Forreston, Leaf River, Byron, Stillman Valley, Monroe Center, Ogle-Lee, New Milford, Cherry Valley, Genoa-Kingston, and Kirkland.