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3 children among 5 dead in northern Illinois farmhouse fire

March 7, 2022 GMT

GARDEN PRAIRIE, Ill. (AP) — Five people, including three children, were killed in an early morning fire at a farmhouse in rural northern Illinois near the Wisconsin border, officials said Monday.

Six others were injured, at least two of them critically, in the fire just outside the small Boone County town of Garden Prairie, said Boone County Fire Protection District #2 Chief Brian Kunce. A sheriff’s deputy suffered a minor hand injury.

The fire was reported to the county sheriff’s office at 2:26 a.m. Monday, and deputies arrived about seven minutes later. It took the first firefighters 16 minutes to arrive because of the foul weather and the nearest fire station was unmanned, Kunce said. That’s about twice as long as it would take under normal conditions, he said.

When they arrived, Kunce said, the farmhouse was engulfed in flames.

“Fire was blowing out of every window (and) three vehicles were on fire,” he said.

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He said those killed include three girls, ages 9, 13 and 14, and a 20-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man. The people killed and those rushed to the hospital appeared to be members of the same family but officials haven’t determined their exact relationships, Kunce said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation and Kunce said it could be weeks before that is determined.

He said it took dozens of firefighters from several fire departments in Boone County and surrounding counties several hours to extinguish the blaze and remove the bodies from the remains of the house.

Boone County Sheriff David Ernest said an agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Alcohol in the area responded but that there was no indication that explosives or firearms were involved in the fire.