Construction on a Spring Grove bridge led to a brush fire that threatened three homes, and a smaller fire burned in Crystal Lake about an hour later.
At 2:33 p.m., the Spring Grove Fire Protection District was called to the area of Winn and Main/East Solon roads, where construction workers had been cutting a pipe for a bridge. A spark ignited dry grass and winds fanned the flames, pushing the fire to the north and west. It traveled over a berm toward the Whitetail Crossing subdivision and a farm, Chief Rich Tobiasz said.
The fire consumed about 15 acres and approached three homes. It started to circle around one of them, but brick landscaping prevented the house from catching fire, Tobiasz said.
“We ended up needing engines to protect the houses because it burned right up to them,” he said.
Luckily, the grass was short.
“It had been cut and baled so the area could be used for parking for the Fourth of July,” Tobiasz said. “Had it been taller, the amount of fuel would have made it even harder to stop.”
About an hour later at 3:45 p.m., the Crystal Lake Fire Department was dispatched to the area of 290 Pathway Court, off Teckler Boulevard and behind Immanuel Lutheran Church. Battalion Chief Bob Kohley said an area about the size of a football field was burned, but the church was not in danger.
It was unclear what caused the fire, which was quickly extinguished, he said.
Those fires followed two other grass fires Wednesday afternoon in Wauconda. Officials said they were caused by discarded cigarette butts.
The first Wauconda fire was in the 1200 block of Kyle Court; the second was in the 24600 block of Miller Road.
The incidents come as drought levels across the state continue to rise, forcing many municipalities to institute water restrictions and cancel or postpone Fourth of July fireworks.
Fire officials urge residents not to leave campfires unattended, not to use fireworks on grass, and to dispose of cigarette butts properly.
“People need to realize that we are in heavy drought conditions, and even mowed lawns are so dry that they will burn really quickly with any type of winds,” Wauconda Fire Battalion Chief Bob Rucker said. “Residents need to be really careful.”