Two Home Owners Lose Everything In Fire


Flames shot out of the roof, black smoke filled the sky and firefighters scrambled as they try to put out two homes that caught fire on Fenceline Drive in Winnebago County.

One of the victims said she was at work when she received an unexpected phone call from her neighbor.

“I was in panic and I just wanted to get here,” said Trish Grabbert. “Of course you think ‘Oh it can’t be true, our house will be okay’. But it’s not.”

Grabbert lived in the home for five years and lost everything in the fire. She says it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

“Devastating. Because everything that is ok in there is soaked down with water and nothing is probably salvagable.The unknown is kind of scary, and ‘I’m like oh my God, where are we going to live?'”

Northwest Fire Protection initially responded to the fires. But, once they arrived, they knew they needed backup.

“[Because of] the amount of fire,” said Northwest Fire Protection Chief Jerry Caskey. “Because of the wind conditions out here, the close proximity of the houses, we had a second house starting on fire from the exposure.”

In all, 12 fire departments worked together to put out the flames. Chief Caskey says one of the homeowners was already outside when they arrived. But, the other homeowner was not. He says his crew quickly went into rescue mode.

“The first crew that got here, we did not have confirmed yet if there was an all clear in the second house. So, the first crew went in and did a search real quick just to confirm everybody was out.”

That’s something Grabbert says she is very grateful for.

“As upset as I was, I kept saying ‘nobody was there, nobody was hurt’. I was just hoping my neighbors got out also.”

And although the next steps for her family are uncertain, she’s glad everyone walked away with no injuries.

“It’s going to be really tough but the idea that no one was hurt, our kids weren’t home and the dog wasn’t there, is enough for me, that can be replaced.”

No word yet on what started the fire.The American Red Cross is assisting both families affected.

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