Mike Lim, his wife and two children were enjoying a day at Morraine Hills State Park in McHenry Sunday when Lim received a phone call from his neighbor.
His house was on fire.
"It took us about an hour to get home," Lim said. "But there wasn't much we could do anyway."
The fire caused $135,000 in damages and left the home uninhabitable. The family currently is staying with nearby relatives while trying to assess their loss.
"Everything is gone," Lim said. "The clothes. The food. ... We are starting at zero."
Lim, an Air Force veteran, relocated with his family to Huntley from Ohio, where he was stationed more than a decade ago. The Lims have lived in the home on the 10700 block of Santa Fe Trail since it was built in 2004.
A neighbor called to report the fire about 10:42 a.m. Sunday. There was heavy fire coming from the rear of the two-story house when first responders arrived. Firefighters rescued three pets from inside including a dog, bird and gecko, said Huntley Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Michael Pierce.
Crews extinguished the fire in the rear of the home and entered the home to discover the flames had moved to the attic, he said.
Pierce said the fire likely started in the sun room. The cause is still under investigation but isn't considered suspicious.
"[The home] is uninhabitable at this point," he said. "The fire was contained to the sun room and attic. The rest is smoke and water damage."
Crews had the fire under control in about 20 minutes, he said.
Woodstock, McHenry Township, Algonquin and Hampshire fire crews assisted Huntley on-scene. Carpentersville, Fox River Grove, Genoa-Kingston and South Elgin crews provided fire station coverage, he said.
The incident remains under investigation.