OXFORD TWP. – A large number of pets perished Friday afternoon when a fire erupted inside a manufactured home on Basket Branch in the Lake Villa community.
According to Fire Chief Pete Scholz, a combination of smoke, heat and the loss of power to the house claimed the lives of approximately 35 birds, one cat and some fish in two tanks.
“There were cages all over the place,” he said. “A lot of them (had) two birds in each cage, two of this kind, two of that kind.”
Apparently, it all started with a candle.
“The homeowner stated that she had a candle burning in the bathroom,” Scholz said. “She blew it out and dropped it in the waste basket.”
She then went to the kitchen area and “the next thing she knew, the smoke detector was going off.”
“She turned around and saw smoke coming from the front bathroom area,” the chief said. “She opened the door and it was full of smoke and flames.”
According to Scholz, she went to get some water to fight the fire, but it quickly became too much for her to handle.
“When she opened the (bathroom) door, the oxygen fed the fire,” he said.
The owner was able to safely exit the home.
When firefighters arrived on scene, Scholz said there was “heavy smoke” coming from the front of the home and flames shooting through the window.
“We were able to extinguish it rather quickly,” he said.
Scholz said the manufactured home is a “total loss.”
“I would say the structure’s $110,000 and the contents, we’re putting (the value) at $40,000,” he said. “If you had to go out and buy another (manufactured home) to put in there, that’s roughly $110,000.”
There are two important things to note about this fire, according to Scholz.
First, the proper way to dispose of a lit candle is to “snuff it out with a little bit of water” before placing it in a trash can.
“That’s something you just don’t throw into the garbage because generally, there’s going to be paper or trash in there (that can ignite) and most garbage cans are all plastic,” Scholz said.
Second, homes should always have functioning smoke detectors.
“That’s what alerted her to the fire,” Scholz said. “Had that smoke detector not been in there, she might not have made it out.”