JOLIET, Ill. (STMW) – An 80-year-old man came home from church and found his house engulfed in flames near Joliet Sunday morning. Two firefighters were injured in the blaze and as many as three dogs perished.

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Crews arrived on the scene at 7:30 a.m. at the 2-story single-family home at 527 Patterson Rd., according to East Joliet Fire Protection District Chief Robert Scholtes. The lone occupant had been at church and while there were as many as three dogs inside, no people were, the chief said.

“When he got home, he found us there,’’ Scholtes said.

The fire began by accident in a first-floor living room and spread all the way to the attic, burning a hole in the roof. At first, firefighters were able to enter the home, but the fire got so heavy, it “chased them out’’ and crews had to fight it from the outside.

The home is located in an unincorporated area with no hydrants so water had to be shipped to the scene.

“It was a stubborn fire,’’ according to the chief, who said it took five hours, five different departments and about 55 firefighters to get it under control.

Scholtes said at one point, the roof of a small porch collapsed on one firefighter who was taken to Silver cross Hospital in Joliet. His injuries were not life-threatening. Another firefighter who is from a neighboring department, was treated on the scene after his fingers were pinched by a five-inch hose line.

As many as three dogs inside the house could not be saved and they died in the fire.

The home was left ‘a total loss’ and its south wall was “on the ground,’’ he said.

Foul play was not suspected in the fire, and its cause was under investigation. The American Red Cross will be assisting the 80-year-old resident with shelter.

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