BYRON, Ill. (WTVO) — A power line fell and electrified a Byron home on Saturday, starting a fire and killing a neighbor who went over to help, her family says.
According to the Byron Fire Protection District, around 8:47 a.m. fire crews were dispatched to the 100 block of W. 3rd Street for an electrical emergency.
What they found was wires from a power line had fallen onto the roof, starting a fire.
The line had also electrified the house, officials said. Heavy rain and snow had fallen overnight.
Byron Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Tony Dinges told Shaw Media the power line carried 7,200 volts.
Marlana McFarland, 36, was trying to let her neighbors know their house was on fire, according to family friends.
Dinges said, “When [firefighters] responded to the scene, they found [McFarland] in the front yard of the residence.”
First responders were unable to advance to administer aid or put out the fire until ComEd arrived at the scene.
“At that point, until ComEd could get there and secure the power line, we had to wait, because it was not safe for our personnel,” Dinges said.
Power was shut off to downtown Byron, and surrounding homes and businesses. Sixteen fire departments from multiple surrounding towns were called in to assist.
According to her family friends, McFarland was an armed forces veteran employed at the Byron Generating Station and leaves behind five children, including a newborn baby.
“She was running next door to help with a fire, not knowing it would be one of the last things she ever did, and maybe, not even caring,” said Pete Rosa.
McFarland was the founder of the “Rockford Crunchy Ladies,” an online community for women and families in the Rockford area. They made a statement on their Facebook page.
“It is with a very heavy heart that we share this news with you today. Our founder Marlana has lost her life while helping others. Marlana was the brightest light, a best friend, a leader, a wonderful mother and so much more. She helped every person she could and never expected anything in return. She gave her heart to the world.”
“I can’t begin to express our gratitude for how loving and supportive [the Byron community] have been,” Rosa added. “The biggest thing we are focused on now, in continuing her legacy and story, is just supporting her children, making sure they are safe and taken care of, and loved.”
The family plans to have a candlelight vigil Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in front of her home.
Rosa and his wife have set up a fundraiser for McFarland’s family.
To help with baby formula and food for the kids a Meal Train fundraiser was also created.