Authorities have released the identity of a 64-year-old man who was killed in a house fire that left his spouse injured in Crystal Lake on Sunday.
The Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department responded around 2:43 a.m. Sunday to a call of a structure fire in the 400 block of South Oriole Trail in Crystal Lake.
Dispatchers were told that at least one subject was trapped inside on the second floor, according to Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department Chief Paul DeRaedt.
Firefighters arrived at the scene within five minutes and rescued the subject on the second floor by use of a ladder.
The subject was transported to an area hospital for evaluation of injuries related to smoke inhalation, DeRaedt said.
A request for mutual aid through the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) was initiated.
The fire was observed to be coming out of a window on the first floor near the rear of the residence.
Additional crews initiated an aggressive fire attack and search of the first and second floors for occupants.
A second subject was located on the first floor and was determined to be deceased, DeRaedt said.
The McHenry County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Maurice M. Bello, 64, of Crystal Lake.
The coroner’s office said they performed an autopsy Tuesday on Bello, who resided at the house where the fire occurred. Toxicology results are pending.
No additional subjects were located after a thorough search of the residence, which had working smoke detectors.
Gusting wind conditions contributed to the spread of the fire, causing extensive damage to the kitchen and rear porch, DeRaedt said.
The remainder of the structure sustained heat, smoke and water damage. DeRaedt said the fire was declared under control at 3:20 a.m.
The structure was deemed uninhabitable until repairs could be made.
Damage to the structure and contents is estimated at $125,000. There were no injuries to any firefighters.
Paul Fields, a family friend, said Bello and his partner, Louise Koch, were awoken by smoke detectors in their house.
They both went downstairs to find their pantry on fire. Koch ran upstairs to get her phone and call 911 but the fire burned a hole in the side of their house.
The black smoke followed her upstairs where she made it to a room and called 911.
“Likely in an attempt to go back to save Louise, [Bello] succumbed to the poisonous smoke. While no one deserves to experience the sudden loss of a loved one, some people are just too kind to see bad things happen to them at all. Louise Koch is one of those people,” Fields said.
“She has a heart of gold, and when she’s around, you can’t help but find yourself in a better mood. Coupled with the most amazingly positive and downright loving man, Mo Bello… they truly were a match made in Heaven, bringing so much joy to people in their lives, myself included,” Fields said.
A GoFundMe account was created for Koch to help with expenses following the fire. Almost $3,000 has been raised so far.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by Crystal Lake Fire Rescue and Cary Fire Protection District fire investigators, Crystal Lake Police Department investigators and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.