Carpentersville family to rebuild home ruined in NYE fire
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN January 14, 2014 12:10PM
Firefighters battle a fire at a home in the Old Town section of Carpentersville on New Year's Eve. No one was hurt, and the family plans to rebuild the home. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: February 17, 2014 7:49AM
CARPENTERSVILLE — Deputy Fire Chief John Skillman heard some good news this week from the family left temporarily homeless by a New Year’s Eve fire.
Skillman said he had visited the Herreras, who are staying in town with relatives, to drop off donations collected for them by village employees. Juan Herrera told Skillman that his family of five is doing well and that he had heard from his home insurance company.
Skillman said Herrera told him the insurer determined that the fire might have been caused by an aftermarket battery for a laptop computer or been a flash electrical fire. The company is convinced the fire was not foul play and is not going to pursue the investigation any further.
As such, with their coverage in place, the family is deciding if it will be able to remodel what remains of the home, at 104 N. Washington St., or if they will entirely rebuild it.
Skillman said the department’s own investigation did not pinpoint a cause but did narrow to where the fire probably started — on or near a wall on the first floor behind a couch.
Shortly before 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve, firefighters were called to the two-story home, at the northeast corner of Washington and Maple Avenue in the Old Town section, by a passerby who spotted smoke coming from the roof. When firefighters arrived, they found the fire had already caused significant structural damage; they went into defensive mode in battling the blaze, remaining on the scene until shortly after 3 a.m.
No one was hurt fighting the two-alarm fire, and residents were not home at the time. Skillman said the family had been out of town since Christmas Eve when the fire happened.
The Society of St. Vincent dePaul chapter that is run through St. Monica Roman Catholic Church parish has been collecting donations and aiding the Herrera family. That effort started after St. Monica parishioner and Carpentersville firefighter Art Carrillo contacted the organization.
Society chapter president Bill Wenzloff said he and group members first met with the family Jan. 6, when they learned Herrera’s wife was in the hospital for a short time the weekend after the fire.
“We met with them again Tuesday night. They are very grateful for all the support,” Wenzloff said.
That support has included giving a good deal of clothing as well as donating money, which has helped the family meet expenses. The society is using items the family could not use to help other local residents in need, Wenzloff said.
Wenzloff suggested that those looking to help the Herreras call the society at 847-428-5467 to coordinate donations. He expects the family might need more aid once insurance matters are fully settled and it is known what, if anything, they will need to replace out of their own pockets.