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Flames engulfed a Sterling house on the Fourth of July

STERLING, Illinois-- The Office of the State Fire Marshal is investigating the fire that damaged a Sterling home Thursday night.

Those inside escaped safely on July 4 as a fire engulfed a home overnight at in the 1400 block of 2nd Avenue.

The homeowner tells News 8 she and her husband were watching television in their living room when she noticed a strange orange glow. Her husband went to open the door to the garage and saw it in flames.

On Friday, she told News 8 the couple is doing fine, but they have not been allowed inside the home yet to assess the damage.

Rudy Delgado, who lives across the street, said the fire spread quickly.

"We were sitting out in our backyard, having a few beers and I just happened to turn there," he and others called 9-1-1. He said he walked towards the burning home: "I was hollering over there, 'The house is on fire! Anybody in there?' and then fireworks started to come out of the garage and I took off and dove behind the car. And once the fireworks stopped, the house was almost on fire and, we were just waiting for the fire department to get here."

The heat got so intense, it melted the bumpers on the cars parked in front of Delgado's house, and the siding of his house and garage.

"My son-in-law was on our house hosing it down, because it melted up on the house also," he said.

Firefighters were called to the scene at about 10 p.m. and were there for about four hours, according to the Sterling Police Department.

Sterling Fire Deputy Chief Michael Dettman said fighting the fire was a challenge because the house was an old structure with void spaces that helped the fire spread quickly. Several fire departments from surrounding areas assisted.

By the time fire engines arrived, the flames were so high, a second arlarm was sounded right away, he said, putting additional fire departments on standby.

One firefighter from the Tampico Fire Department was taken to the hospital due to heat exhaustion but he was released. Another Sterling firefighter fell and suffered a back injury, but was not hospitalized and is expected to make a full recovery, Deputy Chief Dettman said.

He said the cause of the fire could be fireworks but is still under investigation.

Video courtesy of Eye on News - Harold & Heather Smith

A house fire in Sterling, Illinois on Thursday, July 4, 2019. Photo submitted through Facebook from Audra Elder.

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