UTICA, Ill. (CBS) — Firefighters spent several hours in the bitter cold Tuesday morning, working to extinguish an extra-alarm blaze at a resort and indoor water park in Utica, about 90 miles southwest of Chicago.
The fire started just before 5:30 a.m. at Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Lodge, but calls for help continued long after.
One mother who was staying at the resort said the fire alarms woke her up, and at first she thought kids had pulled it as a prank.
“Then when I went in the hallway, that’s when I saw that there was flames in the pool,” she said.
Several departments rushed down Route 178 as the flames grew to a five-alarm blaze.
“We had a parking lot full of vehicles, and we were trying to get people out to be able to get fire trucks in, and it’s different for us. It’s not something you deal with very often,” Utica Fire Chief Ben Brown said.
Getting water to the rural area was tough, because there were no hydrants close enough to use, and firefighters had to truck in water.
Crews drew from giant holding tanks, trying to quench the section of Grand Bear Lodge that houses the indoor water park.
As firefighters battled wind chills around 25 below zero, confused guests had to evacuate the building and keep warm in their cars.
Several sought refuge in Starved Rock Lodge, about a mile and a half away.
“There was a window to the water park, and we could see through the window the water park looked like maybe a gas heater had caught on fire in the wall, and there was flames coming from it, and a lot of smoke,” one guest said.
Crews had the fire under control by about 8:30 a.m., but remained on the scene long after to make sure it didn’t spark up again.
Firefighters also brought in salt trucks, because of the large amount of ice that formed at the scene, amid temperatures around 11 below zero.
No injuries were reported.