Cause of house fire under investigation

By Anna Carrera , Betty Simpson |

Published 05/07 2014 04:09PM

Updated 05/08 2014 05:49PM

Latest: 4:16 pm, 5/8/14, Thursday
PHILO -- Investigators are trying to find out what sparked a house fire Thursday. The Philo Fire Chief says they first saw flames on the northeast corner of the house. The fire burned a lot of the roof, but he says there's mostly water damage on the lower level of the home. No one was home when it started. Neighbors broke down a door to save a dog which was inside.
Latest: 10:11 pm, 5/7/14, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- Neighbors acted quickly to save a dog after a fire at a home in rural Philo. No one was hurt, and this was a team effort on a lot of levels. From the people who called 911 to various fire departments who responded to the call, a lot of people worked together to try to save the family farm house.

"I was just on my way home from work when I noticed fire coming out of one of the top windows, from the attic," said Veronica Tibbs, who lives in Philo. "I just started worrying about if there were people inside, if they had any pets."

No one was inside when the fire started, but a small dog was.

"There was a man who kicked in the door and then thankfully there was another woman," said Tibbs. "The three of us saved Ollie."

Firefighters from several departments came to fight the fire. All of them were volunteers.

"We all had to leave where we were at, put our gear on, get in our fire trucks and come this way," said Villa Grove Assistant Fire Chief Ross Elston. "They started calling for mutual aid right away from several departments like Homer, Longview, Broadlands, everybody else, so we could all bring tankers. There's no water out here, there's no hydrants, so we have to haul water from town."

Getting water was a challenge, but that wasn't all. Wind speeds up to 25 miles an hour didn't help either.

"It's coming out of the south so they started working on that end of the house first," said Elston.

Even though no one got hurt, firefighters say it was still a tough call.

"It'd be successful if it was a small room and contents," said Elston. "It's a lot further than that, but there's still quite a bit of the building standing."

"Thank God," said Tibbs. "Thank God. These are all things that can be replaced and thank God nobody's hurt."

The people who lived there said the home had been in their family for generations. They say they'll get through it and those things that burned are just things. No word yet what caused the fire.
Update: 4:30 pm, 5/7/14, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- Multiple crews responded to a fire in the 1400-block of County Road 800 North about 3:20 pm Wednesday. No one was home at the time of the fire, but a dog was inside. Three people helped save the dog by knocking down the door. Reports say the fire was first spotted on the upper level of the home. Wind is hampering efforts to bring the blaze under control.
Original: 4:09 pm, 5/7/14, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- Multiple crews are on the scene of a house fire. It's in the area of 1439 County Road 800 North. No one was home at the time of the fire. Wind is hampering efforts to control the blaze. 

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