No working smoke detector in home where man died
By Janelle Walker For Sun-Times Media January 8, 2014 9:52AM
Firefighters work the scene of a house fire Wednesday morning in the 100 block of Beck Avenue in South Elgin. One person died in the fire, authorities said. | Janelle Walker for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 9, 2014 9:43AM
SOUTH ELGIN — A village police officer and sheriff’s deputy were able to rescue a wheelchair-bound woman from her home when fire broke out there Wednesday morning, but were unable to get to her husband out before the man died in the fire, officials said.
There were no working smoke detectors in the home and the fire may have been started by careless smoking on or near living area furniture, said South Elgin Fire Protection District Chief Joe Cluchey.
The Kane County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Thomas Hasier, 72, of the Beck Avenue address, who was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:29 a.m.. A determination on the exact cause of death was pending results of an autopsy and full investigation, the office said.
South Elgin firefighters were called at 9:03 a.m. Wednesday to the home at 117 Beck Ave. The caller, an elderly woman, told officials the home was filling with smoke and she was in a wheelchair and could not get out of the home. She also believed her husband was in a bedroom area, officials said.
A report said the woman was found in her wheelchair near the home’s doorway by South Elgin Police Officer Roger Isham and Kane County Sheriff’s Deputy Salina, who were able to carry the woman to safety.
Firefighters arriving at 9:07 a.m. noted heavy fire pushing from several rooms in the single-story home and were told the man was still inside.
Fire crews entering the home were met with high heat and were pushed back out by flashover conditions, Cluchey said. Crews were quickly able to push down the heat and flames enough to again enter the home and with additional visibility located the victim on the floor near the center of the home and near where the fire is believed to have started, officials said.
One family dog was able to escape the blaze, but another dog also died in the fire, officials said.
The home is a total loss and although the exact cause has yet to be established, Cluchey said, investigators suspect careless use of smoking materials. Investigators from the South Elgin district and the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal are working to confirm an exact cause, he said.
Fighting the fire was hampered as the nearest hydrant was frozen and partially obscured by snow. Cluchey asked residents to check their nearest fire hydrant to make sure it is free of snow and able to be seen by emergency personnel in case of a fire.
Noting the absence of a working smoke detector in the home, Cluchey said the South Elgin district has a program that provides senior residents with fire detectors, and firefighters will even change the batteries for those who need the help, Cluchey said.
“All they have to do is call us,” he said.
South Elgin firefighters found themselves extremely busy during the fire, Cluchey said. Crews had just rescued the driver of a vehicle pinned in his car at McLean Boulevard and Spring Street when the call came out. During the fire, there also was a fire alarm at South Elgin High School due to a burst overhead water pipe and a business on Randall Road reported smoke inside, Cluchey said.
No firefighters were hurt during the incident, which also brought fire crews from around the region to help — either covering the other calls or helping knock down the fire, Cluchey said.