WOODSTOCK – Four sheep died in a fire Friday that might have been caused by a space heater used to keep the animals warm.
The fire at 13706 Pleasant Valley Road destroyed a building the size of a one-car garage where the owners kept the sheep, Fire Chief Ralph Webster said. The building was several hundred feet away from the main house, he said.
One woman was treated at the scene for minor burns and released, Webster said.
When the fire call came in at 11:16 a.m., the Woodstock Fire Department called for help from other departments, but canceled the box alarm when it was discovered that the fire was relatively small and manageable, Webster said.
“We called for additional help because when you get in conditions like this, it is necessary to get water and help coming as early as possible,” he said. “When you get near zero [degrees], you’re dealing with equipment breaking down and pumps freezing up, so we wanted to make sure we had help right away.”
Woodstock firefighters had felt the effects of the cold weather at a fire Thursday night. The $600,000 to $700,000 home at 16717 Nelson Road was engulfed when rescue crews arrived at the scene about 5 p.m. By the time they left seven hours later, nothing remained standing.
Firefighters used an excavator to knock down walls so that they could safely access the fire burning in the basement, Webster said.
“Our options were to let the building either completely burn down or to try to open it up,” Webster said. “We made the choice to use the heavy equipment because we thought it would allow us to operate more safely, and it would take less time.”
Time spent fighting the fire was important with temperatures falling below zero and fire equipment breaking down because of the cold.
Webster said he did not believe that the fire was suspicious, but because the house had been flattened, it would be very difficult to investigate.
The owner, Edward Lehman, 73, was not home at the time of the fire, according to the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department.
A passing driver reported the fire, sheriff’s deputies said.
Fire departments from Wonder Lake, Marengo, Harvard, Huntley, Hebron-Alden-Greenwood, Crystal Lake, McHenry Township and Union helped put out the fire.