Around 100,000 gallons of water was used to extinguish an auto body shop fire that left one person injured and caused approximately $1 million in damage early Wednesday morning in Lake Villa, fire officials say.
The Antioch Fire Department and Lake Villa Police Department responded around 3:11 a.m. Wednesday to Mr. J’s Motors, 1671 North Milwaukee Avenue in Lake Villa, for a report of a structure fire.
Antioch Fire Chief Jon Cokefair said crews arrived around five minutes later and found heavy smoke coming from the inside of the structure located just south of Grass Lake Road.
Lake Villa Police Department Lt. James DeCaro said the building was a car dealership and auto body shop.
Firefighters made entry and found heavy fire in the center of the building spreading from the north to the south walls, Cokefair said.
The Antioch Fire Department activated the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) for additional assistance from surrounding fire departments.
The alarm eventually went up to a fifth alarm and then to an interdivisional alarm, bringing in fire departments from Lake County, McHenry County and Wisconsin to the scene.
Cokefair says the cold weather made it a challenge to bring the fire under control.
“It was 14 degrees below zero at the time, so the weather definitely played a factor in us being able to bring the blaze under control,” Cokefair said.
“Everything froze up out there because of the water and the cold. There was ice everywhere. We were truly lucky no one got seriously hurt.”
“Fortunately, we were able to secure a bus from Durham Bus Services to use as a warming station (to) help keep the guys warm. It was miserable,” he added.
One person suffered smoke inhalation injuries and was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville where they were later released.
Firefighters used about 100,000 gallons of water on the auto body shop to put out the blaze.
An excavator was used to tear off the front of the building, Cokefair said.
The fire was brought under control at 7 a.m. and firefighters cleared the scene at around 10:40 a.m.
Cokefair told the Chicago Tribune that damage is estimated at approximately $1 million and the structure was a “total loss.”
Road closures were put into place on Route 83 between Town Line Road and Grass Lake Road.
“I want (to) thank all of our neighbors from McHenry County to Lake County to our friends north of the border into Wisconsin who assisted us in this horrible weather this morning,” Cokefair said.
DeCaro said the police and fire departments are working together in a joint investigation to determine the cause of the fire.