BIG FOOT – Investigators from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office have not found any evidence of explosives after a fire that destroyed a garage and caused a man to suffer severe burns.
Police and fire personnel responded about 7:30 p.m. Sunday to 20205 State Line Road in Big Foot, north of Harvard, to assist with a structure fire with possible explosives, according to a news release sent by the sheriff’s office Tuesday morning. Upon arrival, deputies observed a detached garage on fire but did not find any evidence of explosive devices, according to the release.
Bill Burger, 54, was alone Sunday in the garage outside the residence, which is broken into five apartments, when the fire started, said his wife, Barbara Burger.
Resident Jonathan Bega said he was fixing his car outside of the garage when the fire began.
“I ran to try and take [Bill Burger] out of the garage, but we couldn’t go in because he had locked the door before the fire started,” Bega said Monday. “We tried to pull down the door on the other side and when he came out, he had bad burns everywhere.”
Bega said the fire sounded explosive.
“The fire then began quickly,” Bega said. “I don’t know if it was gasoline, but it was something. I don’t really know if it was an accident or if he did it on purpose.”
Police radio reports initially reported the fire was intentional and a suicide attempt, and that there were possibly pipe bombs and gunpowder in or around the garage. Barbara Burger has said the fire was an accident.
Deputies also assisted the Harvard Fire Protection District with relocating those who lived in the home and traffic control after the fire was extinguished. Police said two people were treated for “fire-related injuries,” and the garage was a total loss. That area of State Line Road also was closed for about three hours.
Harvard firefighters asked members of the sheriff’s office to assist in the investigation to determine the fire’s cause and origin, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said.
Rogers said she did not know why the fire was called in as being caused by explosives, but interviews were being conducted Tuesday to help determine the answer to that question.
The cause of the fire still is under investigation. Members of the Harvard Fire Department declined to comment on the nature of the ongoing investigation, citing the sheriff’s office’s involvement.