“Anything that could go wrong this time… did” BY SPENCER SCHEIN, SVN NEWS REPORTER
June 22, 2004
STERLING, IL Three firefighters were injured while at the scene of a gasoline fueled garage fire Monday afternoon. Children playing with smoke bombs are said to have caused the fire, according to the Sterling Fire Department. The children had thrown what they thought was a dud into the garage in the alley behind 907 First Ave., between Locust Street and First Avenue. However, the smoke bomb was real, and it landed near a gas container. The fire, which has been ruled as accidental, was “fueled with some gasoline,” Capt. Ted Boddiger of the Sterling Fire Department said. The fire was reported at 2 p.m. and the first fire crews were on the scene in three minutes. Flames were showing upon their arrival. “We had the garage fully involved with fire,” Boddiger said. “It started on the inside of the garage; I think it was fireworks set off a gasoline can inside.” It took firefighters from Sterling and Rock Falls about 30 minutes to get the fire under control, and the last fire unit left the scene at 5 p.m. Sterling Fire Department had 11 firefighters working the fire at different times, and Rock Falls Fire Department provided automatic aid assistance by sending three firefighters with an engine and two firefighters in a squad car. CGH EMS also was on scene, and was needed three times. “A Rock Falls firefighter was hit by a car at the hydrant,” Boddiger said. “He was laying a supply line to the fire hydrant,” Rock Falls Firefighter Cris Bouwens said. “(The driver) did not yield to the firefighter as he was trying to get to the fire hydrant.” The firefighter, whose name was not available, had been crossing First Avenue at 10th Street to get to the hydrant on the east side of First Avenue. Two Sterling firefighters were taken to CGH Medical Center to be checked out for heat injuries. All three firefighters were treated and released. “Anything that could go wrong this time did,” Boddiger said. The garage was wood-frame construction surrounded by bricks. The brick walls that did not cave in by themselves were pushed in by firefighters to make sure they would not later fall on someone, Boddiger said. The garage was used by Raymond Delgado, who when contacted by phone Monday evening declined to comment. No vehicles were in the garage, but whatever was stored there was destroyed, as the garage sustained major damage and is considered a total loss, firefighters said. And the fire also did damage elsewhere in the alley. “It damaged three other garages in the alley,” Boddiger said. “It melted the siding of two and the insulation on the inside of a garage door to another one.” The fire also damaged a neighbor’s Lincoln Town Car that had been parked alongside the garage. Boddiger said the fire melted the insulation on the inside of a cloth top covering the car.