RANTOUL -- A problem with a fireplace heater was pinpointed as the cause of a Sunday morning fire that gutted an east-side Rantoul home.
It was one of four fire calls to which Rantoul firefighters responded Saturday night/Sunday morning. Gifford and Thomasboro firefighters also responded to three of the calls.
On Saturday afternoon, those three departments -- plus departments from Ogden-Royal, Paxton and Blue Grass (Potomac area) -- responded to a call in Penfield, where a two-story frame home was destroyed by fire, believed to have been caused by a furnace problem.
The home's occupant, Jim Evans, suffered smoke inhalation and was transferred from Carle Hospital, Urbana, to a Springfield hospital. (See more information in separate story on this website.)
Firefighters were called back to the Penfield house about 1:30 a.m. when the blaze rekindled.
In the Rantoul fire, Fire Chief Ken Waters said firefighters received a call at 4:30 a.m Sunday to a home at 805 N. Maplewood Drive. The house was fully involved when they arrived. Police officers were helping the home's occupants out of the house. Waters said "four or five" people lived in the home, which is owned by Jerry Glazik.
"Flames were showing through windows in the front bedroom and out the front door" when firefighters reached the scene, Waters said.
The home was occupied by Bernice Rosas, Dodorie Gray and "at least two children," Waters said.
Waters said the fire started as a result of a problem with an electric fireplace in a bedroom.
"(Investigators) couldn't tell what happened," Waters said. "There wasn't anything left of it."
He estimated damage at $110,000.
No injuries were reported.
Heat from the blaze damaged a neighboring residence that is also owned by Glazik.
Red Cross was called to assist the residents for lodging.
About 8:37 p.m. Saturday, Rantoul firefighters were standing by for Ludlow Fire Department, which was holding a fundraiser, when they received a call to County Road 3300N and 1538, about 2 miles south and a half-mile east of Ludlow.
Waters said a couple who bought the home and had just moved in earlier in the week had started a fire in the fireplace. Waters said Kathryn Louis indicated she smelled smoke that didn't appear to be coming from the fireplace.
Waters said a wire that had gotten pinched inside a wall caused the framing to catch fire, resulting in an estimated $12,000 damage.
There was smoke in the living room and garage when firefighters arrived.
"Once you opened up the enclosure to the fireplace in the garage, there was some flame and charring," Waters said.
No injuries were reported.
Waters said he encouraged the couple not to spend the night at the residence due to the lingering smoke smell.
Ludlow firefighters also later responded to the call.
Firefighters cleared the scene about 10 p.m.