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Thread: Two Illinois Firefighters Killed Battling House Fire

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    Moderator patries's Avatar
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    Two Illinois Firefighters Killed Battling House Fire

    Two Ashton, Ill. volunteer firefighters were killed Saturday morning when a basement fire grew out of control and the first floor reportedly collapsed, officials said.

    Mike McKean, 32, and Clint Talley, 27, were pronounced dead after being flown to Rockford Memorial Hospital, according to a district spokesman.

    The Ashton Fire Protection District got the initial fire call at 8:20 a.m. Saturday.

    Capt. Larry Yocum of the Franklin Grove Fire Protection District said his unit arrived at about 8:45 a.m., and it looked like the fire was under control.

    However, "Things took a turn for the worse and there was a severe flashover in the basement," Yocum said. He said there were five firefighters in the basement, and only three made it out.

    Chief Pat Hilliker of the Franklin Grove Fire Protection District was treated for smoke inhalation, and two Ashton firefighters were treated for burns. All three, plus one Franklin Grove firefighter who injured his back at the scene, have been released from a local hospital, Yocum said.

    The single-story brick house was destroyed.

    Rochelle Fire Chief Tom McDermott said his department was called to bring an ambulance once Talley and McKean were missing, at 9:10 a.m. He arrived on an engine just as the second firefighter was being extricated and flown to Rockford Memorial Hospital.

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    Chances of Survival Were "Minimal"

    "We knew their chances of survival were minimal," McDermott said, because the two had been in the building for about half an hour, and only had about 20 minutes of air.

    Although part of the house's floor had collapsed, it did not bury the firefighters, McDermott said. The difficulty in rescuing them was the heat coming up from the basement.

    "There may have been an explosion, but it sounds to me like there was a flashover," he said. "The rescue teams were faced with the dilemma that they couldn't get in through the heat."

    Once the firefighters had been recovered, Chief Jeff Larson of the Ashton department asked McDermott to take over the scene. With a defensive attack, the fire was completely out in approximately three hours, McDermott said. These were the first line of duty deaths the region has seen in a long time.

    "The last was in 1951, in Rochelle," McDermott said. "It was quite the shock."

    McDermott noted that an assistant chief of the Ashton department died of a heart attack in November. "So it's kind of like one tragedy after another for them," he said.

    Chief Kevin Lalley of the Dixon Rural Fire Protection District, who was handling inquiries for the Ashton department, said all aspects of the incident are still under investigation.

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