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Christmas fires in Orland leave one injured

RegionalNews 80thAveFire 122916 

Photo credit:Orland Fire Protection District

A burned-out garage hints at the power of the fire on 80th Avenue.

        

Two residential fires in Orland Park this week left one person injured and thousands of dollars in property damage.

The Orland Fire Protection District was called to a house fire at 13827 S. 80th Ave at 10:22 a.m. Monday. The crew on the first engine on the scene observed fire from the rear of the house. 

Firefighters entered the house from the front door and encountered heavy fire as they fought the blaze. Two additional lines were pulled and used to attack the rear deck area and the garage.

The fire was under control in less than an hour, OFPD officials said, but the house sustained heavy fire and smoke damage throughout.

The homeowner, burned while trying to put out the fire, was transported to Loyola University Medical Center.

OFPD Chief Michael Schofield said that homeowners should address a fire only if it is very small and they can use a fire extinguisher.

“The first thing someone should do is make sure everyone is out of the premises and accounted for, and call 9-1-1,” Schofield said. “Outside of a very small fire, don’t battle a blaze by yourself. Leave the premises and wait for firefighters to arrive.”

Schofield said the fire at the home was intense.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but firefighters said it started in or near a live Christmas tree that was in the home.

The Red Cross is assisting the other family members with their needs.

Earlier blaze connected with home fireplace

Fourteen hours before the 80th Avenue house fire, OFPD crews were called to the 14100 block of South Michael Drive to fight a blaze connected with a home fireplace.

Firefighters arrived at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday and found heavy smoke from the garage, with a fire in the back of the garage, according to an OFPD spokesman.

Walls, chimney, and ceiling were opened to expose the hidden fire and extinguish it in about 10 minutes. The fireplace in the home is located in the wall between the home and the garage.

Fire damage was limited to the inside of the frame chimney and some openings adjacent to it.

The residents were home at the time of the fire and escaped without injury. The cause of the fire is under investigation, officials added.

OFPD was assisted by several neighboring fire departments that the Orland stations during the home fire response.

A cautionary tale

The two fires represent a “teachable moment” for everyone in the area, said Palos Township resident Jack O’Donnell a retired Chicago firefighter and independent safety consultant.

“Even though Christmas is over, the danger isn’t, because so many people leave their trees, lights and other decorations up well into January,” he observed. “Every day they stay up, live trees get a little drier—sometimes to the point where they are like a torch just waiting to be lit. And electric lights get a little more brittle and a little hotter.”

O’Donnell recommended from now until decorations come down, everyone follow basic safety steps suggested by organizations like the National Fire Protection Association.

• Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.

• Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.

• Add water to the tree stand every day.

• Use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.

• Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.

• Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.

• Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

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