Firefighters from Utica, Oglesby and Naplate were paged out at 12:12 p.m. to what appeared to be a flare up of Tuesday’s fire. The initial call reported a power pole down; however, when firefighters arrived, they saw the pole remained standing, though a line was down.
Firefighters tackled flames on the north and south sides of Dee Bennett Road, with a focus on preventing the fire from jumping a nearby creek and reaching Starved Rock Marina on the other side. Several boats remained docked just on the other side of that creek.
La Salle County Highway Department assisted, blocking eastbound traffic initially at theMarinaentrance and then closing the road at Route 178 inUtica. La Salle County Sheriff’s Office also aided in the response.
Firefighters soaked the area, in hopes of preventing future flare ups. The impact of falling water stirred ashes that were carried on the breeze, one factor that may continue to aggravate the situation over the next several days.
After knocking down the flames near the road, firefighters checked the canal and nearby railroad to make sure no other hotspots had rekindled.
“We’re hoping to get some rain, but with the depth of this and the density of this stuff, all it takes is one ember, with the wind,” Gbur said.
Gbur was clearly frustrated with the situation. On Wednesday, Gbur said Tuesday’s fire started as a result of a nearby business owner burning landscape waste. That resulted in flames that spread into a field of tall marsh grass and cattails, with 25 mph gusts of wind rushing it along. The fire was elevated to five-alarm status.
“(It’s) just the ongoing expense of this, because somebody wanted to clear some land,” Gbur said. “It’s just been a big burden to the taxpayers.”
“In the state ofIllinois, it’s legal to clear land (and) burn on your property. But you have to use some common sense and you have to make sure you have the proper amount of personnel and equipment to control that fire.”
“In these type of situations, somebody could get injured. That’s my main concern,” Gbur said.
Allison Ryan can be reached at (815) 220-6931 or email@example.com.