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LOSTANT — A family of five lost their home and belongings in a blaze at noon Saturday northwest of Lostant that was visible to motorists on Interstate 39. Lostant fire chief Andy Forrest said no members of the Gage and Liz Kammer family were at home when the fire was reported in the two-story farmhouse at 429 N. 15th Road. They had left by about 9 a.m. for activities such as baseball practices. The fire call came in from the sheriff’s dispatcher at 11:50 a.m. to the Lostant firefighters. “The fire was visible from town. As we got closer, the whole house, both stories, were fully engulfed in flames,” Forrest said. “Once we were paged, our ‘auto aid’ was activated.” Under that cooperative arrangement, Toluca and Wenona fire departments each immediately responded with a fire engine and water tender. “Also we called Tonica FD to bring an engine and a tanker as well before we even got to the scene,” Forrest said. Before firefighters arrived and began dousing the house, a passer-by had rescued a dog that had been on a chain or leash near the house. The fire had progressed too much by the time the call came in for the firefighters to attempt to enter the burning structure. “It was an exterior attack,” Forrest said of the fire-fight. Firefighters also drenched a garage just north of the house to prevent it from catching fire. A firefighter from Wenona sprained an ankle at the scene, he said. A Lostant ambulance and Putnam County (PCEMS) ambulance crew responded to the scene, as did La Salle County Sheriff’s Department. Forrest said the fire appeared to start in one of the rooms on the main level of the home, but he was not 100 percent certain of the origination point. He said an investigator from Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office will try to determine a cause Monday. Forrest said Illinois Valley chapter of American Red Cross has been contacted to offer assistance to the family. He said he believes the family was staying with relatives in the Leonore area. Forrest said Lostant fire station as well as at the home of emergency medical technician Karen Schmitt at 305 E. Third St., Lostant are accepting clothing donations for children under the age of 10, sizes 8, 6, and 4. The family also could use large or extra-large shirts, men’s pants, sizes 32/32 and women’s pants, size 14, according to a fire department press release.
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