Man in fatal Huntley fire ‘personable, ambitious’

HUNTLEY – Allen R. Jacobs used a wheelchair his entire adult life, and his greatest fear was being placed in a dangerous situation where he couldn’t escape, family members said

A two-alarm blaze in the six-unit building at Huntley Woodcreek Apartments started Sunday morning in Jacobs’ first-floor unit. The fire killed Jacobs, 47, and displaced 12 others.

His older sister, Cindy Shanahan, and his fraternal twin, Pam Jacobs, described the longtime Huntley resident as a personable, ambitious man, who never let it get him down that he could not use his legs.

“The guy was so fun-loving, had a huge heart and was always smiling, even though he was in a wheelchair,” Pam Jacobs said. “He is going to be so missed by everyone because he didn’t have an enemy ever.”

Allen Jacobs became a quadriplegic as the result of a car accident as a teenager nearly 30 years ago. He lived alone at Woodcreek Apartments, 11700 Woodcreek Ave., for the past 18 years and received medical help from nurses and family.

Born and raised in Huntley, he was proactive about seeing his nieces and nephews perform in sports and other school functions. Aside from family, his genuine smile and personality routinely won over women, Shanahan said.

“He loved life,” Shanahan said. “He was a go-getter. Just phenomenal.”

The Huntley Fire Protection District responded to flames and smoke billowing out of a building at Woodcreek shortly before 6:15 a.m. Sunday. Firefighters from 15 area departments helped Huntley extinguish the blaze.

Huntley Fire Chief Ken Caudle said Allen Jacobs’ apartment was “badly damaged.” The fire spread from his unit to the second and third floors, mildly affecting two other units, Caudle said.

The 12 tenants displaced by the fire all made personal arrangements for temporary shelter, a Woodcreek spokesperson said. The owners still are discussing when and how the displaced tenants can return to Woodcreek.

Huntley fire officials and the Illinois State Fire Marshal are investigating the fire. Caudle said the fire’s origin is not suspicious.

A memorial service for Allen Jacobs has been set for Friday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 11008 N. Church St., Huntley. The visitation is set for 3 to 8 p.m.

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