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Families displaced by McHenry fire

Caption
(Jim Dallke - jdallke@shawmedia.com)
Windy City Wings, 1266 N. Green St., was completely destroyed overnight after the building caught fire from a downed power line.
Caption
(Joseph Bustos - jbustos@shawmedia.com)
A fire in downtown McHenry at Windy City Wings required multiple fire departments to be called Thursday night.

McHENRY – A sports bar and residence both caught fire Thursday from power lines brought down by heavy winds during the first winter storm of the season, according to the McHenry Township Fire Protection District.

Crews were called to Windy City Wings, 1266 N. Green St., at around 9 p.m. Thursday for a report of flames coming from the business, fire Battalion Chief Mike Majercik said. Firefighters arrived to find sparks and flames comin from an arched utility pole and downed wires that fell on the front of the building.

Three families who lived in apartments above the business were also displaced by the fire losing all of their belongings days before Christmas. A donation event is scheduled for this morning at Duker School.

“It was like a fireworks show,” Majercik said. “While ComEd was shutting off the power, the fire extended into the building. The high winds just fed the fire and made it hard to get under control.”

The fire quickly spread as crews focused on saving an adjoining business.

The blaze completely destroyed the bar and grill, but the adjoining business was saved, Majercik said.

Roger Phelps, of McHenry, lives near to the two-story wooden frame building.

"It looked like someone was [shooting] off fireworks," Phelps said.

Route 120 and Green Street near the incident was closed until 6 a.m. Friday.

Ron Theodore, 43, of McHenry, watched on Green Street as crews worked.

"It's a historic building that will be lost ... forever," Theodore said. "It's a sad thing to see."

This was the third fire at the building over the years, Majercik said.

The blaze also displaced three family residing in apartments above the business. Those families are now staying with family members or friends.

Students and staff from Edgebrook Elementary School and Duker School are hosting a fundraiser from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday to help the displaced families, who all have children in McHenry School District 15.

The event will take place at Duker School, 3711 W. Kane Ave. The district has already received more than $2,000 in monetary donations as well as donated toys, coats and other items.

"All the schools have come together to do everything we can to help these families," said Michelle Reinhardt, principal at Edgebrook. "Everybody coming together has just been an amazing sight."

Earlier Friday evening — around 6:30 p.m. — crews were called to an unoccupied home in the 3000 block of South Pool Street in an unincorporated area near McHenry for a report of downed power lines.

Firefighters later found a utility pole and wires arched against the top of the home, which caused the attic to catch fire, Majercik said. Crews were able to extinguish the fire rather quickly, limiting the damage to the attic of the home.

“Two fires caused by downed power lines is unheard of,” Majercik said. It’s strange to have something like this, where both fires were a direct result of the high winds.”

No one was injured during either incident, and the township received assistance from several area departments.

• Reporter Joe Bustos contributed to this report

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