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10 Acres Burned By Fire Caused By Smoking Materials

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PALATINE, Ill. (STMW) – It took firefighters in the northwest suburbs nearly six hours Saturday to put out a brush fire that was started by improperly discarded smoking materials and fueled by high winds and dry grass.

About 10 acres of grass and marshland was burned in the fire, which the fire officials said was extremely difficult to fight because it was burning in marshland, and firefighters had to contend with 1-2 foot deep water and mud while working with hand tools to contain the fire.

At 4:34 p.m. Saturday, the Palatine Fire Department received a report of a brush fire in the northeast corner of the Deer Grove Forest Preserve, near the intersection of Dee Lane and Preserve Drive, a release from the fire department said.

The first crew on the scene, an engine company from Lake Zurich responding under an automatic aid agreement, arrived on the scene in eight minutes. They reported a small brush fire and began to attack the fire.

The fire grew rapidly, aided by the high winds and low humidity at the time, and the Lake Zurich firefighters called for additional equipment. The Palatine Fire Department responded, and deployed units to protect downwind exposures along Rand Road and Lake-Cook Road, the release said.

The fire was stopped in these areas, but because of the dry, long grasses present in the area, it began to burn back into the wind and in a crosswind direction back toward homes along Brentwood Drive on the north side of the forest preserve. Additional firefighting units from Palatine, along with wildland firefighters from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s Department of Resource Management and Resident Watchmen were summoned to protect these structures, eventually necessitating a Box Alarm response. A total of more than 50 firefighters staffing 23 pieces of apparatus of various kinds responded, along with five command officers.

The Palatine Fire Department says the fire was extremely difficult to fight because it was burning in marshland, and firefighters had to contend with 1-2 foot deep water and mud while working with hand tools to contain the fire. No structures or vehicles were damaged in the fire, which was declared under control at 9:55 p.m. and out at 10:29 pm.

Approximately 10 acres of grass and marshland was burned in the fire, which was apparently accidental in nature, caused by improper disposal of smoking materials, the fire department said.

The Palatine Fire Department wants everyone to remember to use extreme caution in disposing of smoking materials at any time, and to use caution with any heat-producing product in dry, windy conditions in fields or brush.

The Cook County Forest Preserve Police assisted firefighters and with crowd control, and Palatine Police officers, going door-to-door met with numerous residents during the fire; several residents chose to voluntarily evacuate their homes as a precaution, but no mandatory evacuations were ordered.

No civilians or police officers were injured during this incident, but one firefighter was treated on the scene for a minor injury.

Other agencies that assisted at the scene included the Palatine Emergency Management Agency, Palatine Fire Rehab Team, Metro Emergency Support Services canteen, Palatine Public Works, and the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Fire departments that responded to the scene included the Palatine Rural, Long Grove, Prospect Heights, Algonquin-Lake in the Hills and Countryside Fire Protection Districts and the Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows and Arlington Heights fire departments. Itasca, Elk Grove Township and Streamwood provided units to stand by in Palatine fire stations to provide continuous coverage during the incident.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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