One firefighter was injured, but wasn’t hospitalized, and no homes or buildings were damaged as a result of a prairie fire that burned up about 10 acres of land in Orland Park Saturday night.
Witnesses reported seeing firework flares falling from the sky near a field north of 143rd street and west of Wolf Road, around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Flames began shortly there after and personnel then arrived on scene.
“They were the big mortar shots that burst in the sky,” said Tony Gloria, general manager, who saw the fire begin from the restaurant across the street. “The fire grew pretty quickly, and the wind was a major factor I think. The flames were blowing south towards 143rd, however the fire was spreading in other directions as well.”
Orland Fire Battalion Chief Mike Schofield said the fire’s cause is still under investigation, and noted fireworks were reported in the area before the fire started.
About 10 acres of prairie burned in the blaze, which kept firefighters working for about 2 hours at first to contain, Schofield said. Firefighters then returned to check on hotspots at 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Sunday morning, he added.
Cattails in the prairie combined with the extreme dryness from high heat fueled the fire, Schofield said.
“High cattails burn very hot and create quite a site, though it looks worse than it is,” Schofield said. “The concern was keeping the fire from jumping south across 143rd, where it is much dryer and the cattails are 12 feet tall. That would’ve been a greater danger.”
Shifting winds kept the flames away from nearby homes, combined with firefighters working on all sides to quell the spread, Schofield said. An aerial ladder was used to pump water down at the flames to stop them.
One firefighter was injured during the fire, but did not need hospitalization, Schofield said.
Firefighters from Orland stations 1, 2, 3 and 5 fought the flames, and a water tanker truck from the Homer Township Fire Protection District was on scene.
“Because of what’s going on in Colorado, people were very concerned and rightly so,” Schofield said. “That’s why we came out in force and contained it, and put it out. I don’t see rain in the coming days’ forecasts, so the dangers of this dry weather isn’t going to go away any time soon.”
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