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Sycamore house sustains $200K in damage

Published: Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST
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(From Daily Chronicle video)
The Sycamore Fire Department responded to a house fire at 339 Chauncey St. at 11:58 p.m. Saturday and found the house engulfed in flames. Neighbors said no one was living at the house.

SYCAMORE – Neighbors said no one was living at a Sycamore house that was badly damaged early Sunday morning.

The Sycamore Fire Department responded to a house fire at 339 Chauncey St. at 11:58 p.m. Saturday and found the house engulfed in flames.

The fire is believed to have started in the kitchen, and the damage is estimated at $200,000 to the 2½ story house. Sycamore Fire Chief Pete Polarek said the fire caused significant damage to the first and second floor of the house. Based on his observations, the house appeared to be significantly compromised.

There were no injuries reported.

It took firefighters about 45 minutes to get the fire under control, and the cause of the fire is under investigation, Polarek said. Sycamore firefighters and an investigator from the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal were at the scene Sunday morning.

County property tax records indicate the house is owned by James and Susannah Smith. James Smith declined to comment, saying they were going through a lot already. He deferred to the fire department’s statement.

John Knepper, who lives nearby at 358 Chauncey St., said the Smiths had purchased the house a year ago and were remodeling it.

“No one was living there at this point,” Knepper said.

Mary Smith, who lives next to the fire-damaged house but is of no relation to the owners, said she wasn’t concerned about the fire spreading.

“I felt terribly bad,” Mary Smith said about the fire. “They had just completed it, and they were going to move in [renters].”

Mary Johnson and her husband, Nick Dreher, who live two houses down from 339 Chauncey St., said their dog, Hattie, woke them up when she barked at people on the sidewalks. Johnson and Dreher said they watched as firefighters from Sycamore, DeKalb and Cortland put out the blaze.

Johnson said she was concerned about the houses directly next door. At one point, she said, a nearby tree was beginning to catch fire. But firefighters quickly took care of the situation, eliminating the threat of the fire spreading.

“Their response was pretty impressive,” Johnson said.

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