Libertyville trailer catches fire

LIBERTYVILLE ? A fire caused major damage to a house in Libertyville Saturday afternoon, though nobody was injured in the blaze.

A trailer near the intersection of Main and Market streets caught fire shortly after 2 p.m. The building belongs to Allen Melcher and was being rented by Steve Smith. Nobody was home at the time of the fire.

Libertyville firefighters responded and called for mutual aid from the Fairfield Fire Department.

Libertyville Assistant Fire Chief Dan Nystrom said he saw flames shooting out of the porch when he arrived at the scene. Flames were also coming from the bedroom on the north end of the trailer.

Firefighters were able to stop it before it entered the southern half of the structure, though Nystrom wasn?t sure how much of the building is salvageable because it suffered smoke and water damage.

?The north bedroom was a total loss,? he said. ?The ceiling of the north bedroom had to be torn down along with the ceiling in the living room. The kitchen had smoke and water damage, the laundry room had water damage and the bedroom on the south side had smoke damage.?

Jefferson County Sheriff?s Deputy Tracy Vance was among the first to respond to the call. He saw a propane tank on the porch, so he ran and grabbed it before the fire had a chance to threaten it. Melcher pulled the American flag off the roof [This story has been edited to reflect the fact that Melcher pulled the flag off the roof.]

?That would have been like a huge bomb exploding if the fire got to the propane cylinder,? Nystrom said. ?Kudos to Vance for doing that. He was also helping us pull out the hose from the start. Anyone pitching in for a fire is great because time is of the essence.?

Nystrom said trailer fires are especially difficult to fight because they tend to be made of materials that burn quickly.

?Trailer fires go really fast, so we have to work quickly. With Fairfield there, we were able to do that,? he said.

Nystrom said the firefighters made holes in the roof while the fire was burning so they could see where to direct the water hose.

?We made vent holes to give us access to the fire, because we have to be able to see what we?re doing,? he said. ?We can?t see anything through the smoke because it?s too dense.?

The two crews of about seven or eight firefighters each put out the blaze in an hour, and then spent another hour or two at the scene cleaning up.