Juveniles Charged With Arson in Illinois Fire

September 18, 2004, Harlem-Roscoe Firefighters were once again rousted out of bed in the middle of the night for a fire at 5610 West Lane in Machesney Park, Illinois.

A couple weeks before, firefighters had extinguished straw on fire in a large pole barn at the farm. This time it was around 3 AM when Harlem-Roscoe Fire Chief Oscar Presley arrived first on scene and reported an old 2-story abandoned farm house fully involved with fire.

Although the farmhouse sat down an old dirt road far off the highway, the glow of the fire could be seen for miles. The farm house that had old balloon construction burned fast.

As the first Engine/Pumpers arrived, the roof of the building and the second floor collapsed. Hose lines were pulled and a lot of water was needed to extinguish this fire. Water supply was shuttled in using the department's two 3,000 gallon super tankers. The intense fire also had spread to the surrounding fields, so Assistant Chief Ken O'Dell sent a grass rig into the fields to get to those fires.

By daylight, the old house was just a pile of smoking debris in the basement. Some juveniles were taken into custody by Winnebago County Sheriff Deputies on scene for questioning and three have now been charged with arson.