Fire damages Elmwood Avenue home in Evanston

Marshall Cohen

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The Evanston Fire Department responded to a house fire Monday at 1318 Elmwood Ave., temporarily closing the road’s intersection with Dempster Street.

The residents of the home were reportedly unaware of the fire when Evanston firefighters arrived on the scene. The four residents fled the burning building without any injuries.

City spokesman Eric Palmer said the intersection has since been reopened. He lives nearby and saw the blaze raging mid-day Monday.

“I was coming home for lunch, and I couldn’t get into my neighborhood because all the streets were blocked off,” Palmer said. “There were police cars and fire trucks everywhere. There was this huge cloud of smoke.”

The fire started on the attic of the third floor and caused “pretty extensive damage,” Palmer said. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and is still under investigation.

The old, Victorian-style home sustained enough damage to cause structural problems to the building, Palmer said. The residents were forced to move out for the time being and the house was boarded up.

Evanston Fire Chief Greg Klaiber told Evanston Now his crew was able to confine the fire to the third floor of the house, but water damaged other parts of the house while firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze.

Palmer said the residents had a “remarkably large amount” of antiques in their Elmwood Avenue home, including a grand piano, that were damaged by the fire and subsequent response.

“All the water has to go somewhere so there is a lot of water damage,” Palmer said.

Klaiber also told Evanston Now the fire might have originated in an electrical junction box in the attic.

Battalion Fire Chief Donald Kunita, who officially retired Monday after 35 years of service, personally responded to the house fire, Palmer said.

“They just had a big get-together at the fire department, and he had to respond to a house fire on his very last day at work,” Palmer said.

Evanston firefighters received assistance from nearby fire departments, Evanston Now reported. A tower truck from Skokie and a squad from Morton Grove helped put out the blaze.

Palmer added that the residents seemed to be pleased with the response and with how the Evanston Fire Department handled the situation.

Evanston Fire Division Chief Thomas Janetske did not return a call seeking comment Monday.