Two people, including a man that had second and third-degree burns, were injured after an “explosive” garage fire in Harvard that caused $250,000 in damage.
On Sunday, at around 7:30 p.m., sheriff’s deputies and firefighters were called to 20205 State Line Road in Harvard near Route 14 for a report of a structure fire with a possible explosion.
When first responders arrived, they found a detached garage that was fully engulfed in flames. According to initial police radio traffic, there were reports of possible pipe bombs and gun powder in or around the garage, as well as the possibility it was suicide attempt. However, officials would not comment on who called 911 or where those reports came from.
Responding firefighters initially staged away from the scene and requested McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies to approach first and secure the scene. Within minutes, fire crews were cleared to proceed in.
Two people were injured in the fire. One of them was identified as Bill Burger, 54, who suffered second and third-degree burns in the fire. He is currently in the intensive care unit at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford in fair condition.
Burger was alone in the garage outside of his residence when the fire started, according to the Northwest Herald.
The Northwest Herald interviewed one of the residents, Jonathan Bega, who lives inside the adjacent multi-apartment home. He claimed he was working on his own car outside the garage when the structure caught fire.
“I ran to try and take [Burger] out of the garage, but we couldn’t go in because he had locked the door before the fire started. We tried to pull down the door on the other side and when he came out, he had bad burns everywhere,” Bega told the Northwest Herald.
Bega also said that the fire sounded explosive. “The fire began quickly. I don’t know if it was gasoline, but it was something. I don’t really know if it was an accident or if he did it on purpose,” Bega continued to tell the Northwest Herald.
When the wife of Burger was interviewed by the Northwest Herald she denied the claims that it was a suicide attempt and called it “a total accident”.
The garage was a total loss which is estimated at around $250,000.
The Harvard Fire Protection District requested the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office to assist with the fire investigation and investigators were back at the scene on Tuesday conducting interviews. So far investigators claim they “did not see any evidence of explosive devices” at the scene.
Both the Harvard Fire Protection District and the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office refused to answer questions regarding the cause or the circumstances leading up to the fire.