VILLAGE OF SUMMIT -- A Village of Summit home burned to the ground near Mill and Venice Park Rd. Thursday morning, Feb. 22. Firefighters struggled to get water to the flames as there were no fire hydrants in the area -- so water had to be trucked in.
The flames were intense. A Summit police officer was first on scene after a 911 call around 4:30 a.m.
"Flames coming out of all the windows, all four sides, out of the eaves, and so the house was essentially lost by the time we got here," said Glenn Leidel, Western Lakes assistant fire chief.
Fortunately, the only person inside -- and two pets -- got out safely. Two surrounding structures, one being Jesse Jens' home, were not damaged, but he wasn't immediately sure of that outcome.
"We were evacuated from our house and you don't know what to grab at the last-minute, paperwork. What do you grab?" said Jens.
Jens said it took quite a while before water began dousing the flames because firefighters were dealing with a non-hydrant area.
"All the water had to be trucked in and then on the narrow road, we had to lay hose up the road because you can't turn the big trucks around here," Leidel said.
About 30,000 gallons of water was used -- about 10 tankers full. Ironically, water flowed in a waterway near the house. Onlookers in canoes watched the fire.
"If we can use the static source, a lake, a river, we will -- but you have to get the truck close enough to it," Leidel said.
Crews also had to avoid getting the 45,000- to 50,000-pound apparatus stuck. Once the fire was out, you could still see intense flames. It was the gas meter. They were unable to clamp the piping.
"The safest way to manage a gas leak if it's already burning is to keep it burning," said Leidel.
Leidel said it's better for it to burn until the gas company arrives than for the gas to accumulate.
"It was very close to going," Jens said.
Officials said the house is a total loss, and the detached garage and its contents were heavily damaged.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.