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Homeowners safe but blaze destroys ‘dream house’ in Campton Hills

A fire thbroke out around 9 am Monday September 10 2012 completely destroyed an Elburn home located 3N195 Springwood Lane.

A fire that broke out around 9 am on Monday, September 10, 2012, completely destroyed an Elburn home, located at 3N195 Springwood Lane. No one was injured in the blaze. | Michele du Vair~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 10, 2012 6:22PM

As they watched the 20- to 30-foot-high flames shoot through their newly remodeled home, Bob and Debbie Notaro were lucky to get out alive.

“Talk about getting out with just your shirt,” Bob Notaro said Monday, outside their home at 3N195 Springwood Lane in Campton Hills, in a secluded, wooded area at the end of a dead-end lane.

“I wanted to get my wife and the dog out. I did pull my wife’s car out of the garage and by then the dry wall was already popping off the ceiling of the garage. It was the one and only thing we saved,” Notaro said.

Notaro said he tried to pull his car out of the garage, but the door collapsed from the extreme heat.

As he spoke, Notaro held a medicated pack on his forehead and sported bandages medics had applied on his back where fire had singed a hole in his T-shirt.

Notaro said he and his wife were upstairs in their master bedroom shortly before 9 a.m. Monday when he saw smoke coming from a ground level screened-in porch in back of the two-story house.

Notaro called 911 and then tried to put out the fire with a garden hose, but the flames already were shooting up into the ceiling.

“By the time I went downstairs and pulled the hose out the whole back porch went up. That’s when I got burned,” he said.

Firefighters faced multiple obstacles in battling the blaze, and flames continued to shoot 30 feet into the sky more than an hour after the first fire crew responded to the call.

There are no fire hydrants in the area, so crews were hauling in water and dumping it into a 12-foot by 12-foot pool. Adding to the problems, because the street is a dead-end, fire tankers were having a hard time maneuvering in the area.

The blaze presented “significant challenges,” said Assistant Fire Chief Joe Schelstreet of the St. Charles Fire Department.

“There is water constantly being applied to the fire, but with no fire hydrants it is challenging for us,” Schelstreet said.

Schelstreet said the firemen were positioned in “designated collapse zones.”

“The roof structure and second floor have fallen – the fire has to be dug out and it has to be done safely,” Schelstreet said.

By 11:30 a.m. the flames were out but the remains of the home were still smoldering.

Notaro said the house was built in 1988 and his family has lived there for seven years.

“We just got finished remodeling the whole house – this was my wife’s dream house,” Notaro said.

He said his daughters had recently moved out.

A smoky haze filled the woods surrounding the house, and the dense, black smoke from the blaze could be seen across the sky west of the Tri-Cities. The closest neighboring home is about 500 feet away, so the fire did not spread to other structures.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, fire officials said.

Firefighters from 17 departments — including Geneva, St. Charles, Batavia, Elburn, Big Rock, Maple Park, Sugar Grove, Kaneville, South Elgin, Cortland, Pingree Grove, Burlington, Hampshire, Sycamore, Elgin and West Chicago — all were dispatched to the scene, which is just south of Beith Road.

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