Community rallying behind family left homeless by Elk Grove fire
Elk Grove Village residents are rallying behind a family displaced by a fire Wednesday in which neighbors say they rescued four people from the burning home.
Fire department Battalion Chief Nathan Gac said investigators are working to determine the cause of the blaze that broke out in a three-car garage attached to a home on the 500 block of Crest Avenue, near Ridge Avenue and Landmeier Road.
In the meantime, Donna Romero, a member of Elk Grove Village's Community Emergency Response Team, and her daughter, Kelli, are leading an effort to collect donations for the family. Cash, checks and gift cards for stores allowing the family to buy practical items are among the items they're accepting in a lock box at their house, 1639 Gibson Drive.
Kelli Romero, 23, said she attended Mead Junior High School in Elk Grove Village and James B. Conant High School in Hoffman Estates with Emily Bunescu, one of the residents displaced from the fire-ravaged house. Any donated checks should be made payable to Bunescu, she said.
"You would hope that someone would do the same thing for your family, God forbid that (a fire) happens, if you needed it," Romero said.
An Elk Grove Village mobile command unit and a fire truck were part of the activity outside the home Thursday. No one was allowed to occupy the house due to significant structural damage, fire officials said.
Investigators believe flames spread from a section of the garage that didn't have drywall into the attic and then the house, Gac said. A damage estimate has yet to be calculated.
"Obviously, the main fire in the house was easy for us to find and put down," Gac said. "We were chasing hot spots in the attic of the house to make sure we had it entirely extinguished. So, most of the fire happened in the garage and in the attic throughout the house."
An elderly man who needed to be placed in a wheelchair and three others were saved from the burning house, according to neighbors on Crest Drive. Brett Tanner told the Daily Herald he was mowing his lawn a block down the street when he saw the flames. He considered finding a hose before barging into the house and telling everyone to get out.
Gac said the house had three or more smoke detectors sounding when firefighters arrived. Three people were taken to a hospital for observation of smoke inhalation after the fire, officials said.
About 50 firefighters and at least 11 suburban fire departments were at the scene. Firefighters were sent to the house shortly after 5 p.m. and the blaze was considered extinguished by about 9 p.m.