ORANGEVILLE, Ill. (WTVO) — Three people are dead, including two kids after a fire broke out in an Orangeville house. It happened at a home on Main Street around 3:00 a.m.
Fire crews found heavy smoke and fire coming from the front of the house when they arrived. A 4-year-old, an 11-year-old, and a 40-year-old were all found dead inside.
Investigators say they are still looking into what started the fire.
Firefighters on the scene say the tragedy that happened will leave lasting effects on the tight-knit-community. They tell us they haven’t responded to a fatal fire like this one in decades.
“Everything happened so fast. There are so many things going on all at once,” said Orangeville Assistant Fire Chief Kerry Dinges.
Assistant Chief Dinges says the front of the house was already fully engulfed in flames when the first crews arrived on scene.
“We started out behind the 8 ball right away, so you just do catch up as quick as you can,” Assistant Chief Dinges added.
“We started an aggressive attack of the fire, located three victims that unfortunately were deceased,” said Orangeville Fire Chief Pat Widolff.
Dinges says tragedies like these don’t happen very often in Orangeville.
“The last fatality we had was nearly 40 years ago, and I’m the firefighter who pulled that person out of the house. So it’s been a long time since we’ve had to deal with this,” the assistant chief said.
According to Dinges, grief counselors are already on hand at schools in town to help support kids and other community members. The longtime volunteer firefighter admits it was tough for him to keep his emotions in check, even while trying to battle the blaze.
“You try to suppress as much of that as you can coming in because you need to keep an open vision, and that can be challenging that you don’t have tunnel vision,” Asst. Chief Dinges said. “I’m more emotional now than I was then. You try to tend to business as much as you possibly can. Now it’s after the fact, and the adrenaline’s starting to wear off.”
Dinges expects the tragedy will be hard to process for the tight-knit community
“We’ll come back. It’s going to take a little bit, as it should. This is not something you should get over in a moment,” Asst. Chief Dinges said.
Investigators say it doesn’t appear foul play was involved but the fire is still under investigation by the state fire marshal.
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