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Waukegan Firefighter Hurt Battling House Fire

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(AP File Photo)

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WAUKEGAN (CBS) – A Waukegan firefighter was injured while fighting a blaze that destroyed an unoccupied home on Friday.

The fire started at about 2:50 a.m. Friday at 2213 Alta Vista Drive in Waukegan, according to city Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi.

The three-level residence was at a ravine off Sheridan Road, Lenzi said. The home was unoccupied and was “extremely cluttered,” he said.

“It was similar to a hoarder situation,” he said, adding that the house had been unoccupied for a while.

Officials were unable to determine what caused the fire due to extensive damage, Lenzi said, but utility services to the house had been cut. Officials did determine that the cause was not accidental.

The case has been referred to the Waukegan Police Department as a potential criminal act, Lenzi said.

The hurt firefighter sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the 12 hours it took to extinguish the blaze. A condition report was not immediately available.

The house was a total loss, Lenzi said, estimating its value between $250,000 and $300,000.

Initial crews worked hard to put the fire out and to keep it from spreading, he said. In addition to the clutter, the floors collapsed down to the basement, Lenzi said.

Firefighters kept pouring water on the fire as demolition crews knocked the house down. There were several hidden hot spots, Lenzi said.

“Due to the amount of heavy damage, they were very fortunate to save the two neighboring houses,” Lenzi said.

(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)