Fire marshal investigating explosion and fire in Roscoe apartment early Sunday morning
After an explosion in the vacant apartment below them shortly after midnight on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, a man and two small children were rescued from their home at 10126 Clearwing Lane, south of Roscoe Road, The Office of the State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire. It was quickly contained by Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department, who feared that much of the four-plex apartment might collapse because of what they called "significant structural damage." The other three units were not occupied. When fire personnel arrived, they found "moderate smoke and fire to the south side" of the building.
Learning that Trevor Klett and his two children were trapped inside, first responders forced their way in. Medical crews checked them and found they were not injured. But the family lost their home and possessions in the fire and resulting smoke damage. Their cat Loki also ran off but has since been found. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to collect donations.
Klett told WIFR, “The first thing I did was run into their room to check on them. The fire department showed up right away and they actually had broken my door, so we were trying to come out as they were coming in.”
The family says they had previously told Nicor Gas three times about a gas smell at the apartment. According to MyStateline.com, representatives said they didn't detect any leaks the next day but were still testing. We have asked Nicor for updates. Winnebago County tax records say the property is owned by Byard Trust, which belongs to Jake Petry.
Originally Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department had been told the fire was in the adjacent 10000 block of Monarch Road but received the correct address en route. Battalion Chief Mike Jones immediately requested additional resources through a MABAS Box 11 to the 2nd Alarm. They remained on scene for several hours after the fire was out because of a natural gas leak. Fire personnel believed it was caused by the damage. Nicor crews arrived and took care of it, checking on nearby homes the next day.
Several fire departments responded to the emergency, and Harlem-Roscoe is also grateful for the Change of Quarters department that came in to cover any other calls. They announced, "Please avoid the immediate area around this structure to avoid any potential injury or death resulting from any of the debris or further structural collapse."
Harlem-Roscoe Fire interim chief John Bergeron told MyStateline.com that the apartment needed to be stabilized before investigators could do their work properly. Meanwhile, he advises all residents, “Make sure the knobs on the stoves are off. Any furnace, have that serviced. Any fireplaces, if they’re gas, service them. Every year, it should be a good idea to service all the appliance sets to make sure there’s no leaks. And if you do smell the gases, call 911 and evacuate the structure.”
Tap, click, or swipe on the photo below to view an image gallery of the incident. Photos: Sheryl Drost, Harlem-Roscoe Fire