Explosion at House Fire in Colona Disorients Firefighters Inside the Residence

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Two explosions impacted firefighters fighting a house fire on Ballegeer Lane in Colona on Thursday night.  A passerby reported the fire to the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and fire units arrived on-scene within 8 minutes.  According to the Colona Fire Department release, fire units arrived to find a two-story house with heavy smoke and flames.  Fire personnel immediately began attacking the fire and searching the home for occupants.  While fire crews were inside the residence, an explosion from the basement left firefighters “disoriented from the noise and impact”, according to the release.  A mayday stress call was sent out following the explosion but fire personnel inside the structure were able to escape through doors and windows.  All fire personnel escaped safely with no injuries.  According to Deputy Fire Chief, Kirk Wyffels, “The house was deemed unsafe for offensive actions due to the unknown items in the home exploding and the condition of the fire”.  The cause of the first explosion was determined to be gunpowder stored in the basement area by the occupants of the residence.

Around 6:43 AM on January 27, 2023, A second explosion happened from the second story level while fire command units were on scene performing secondary checks from the fire the night before.  When crews arrived on scene, a defensive attack started on the fire.  Since the home was deemed unsafe, fire control was difficult and fire suppression efforts continued for hours.  The second explosion remains under investigation.  The occupants of the residence were not home at the time of the fire.  There were no injuries to civilians or firefighters from the fire or explosions.  The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The Colona Fire Department was assisted by Coal Valley, Carbon Cliff-Barstow, Silvis, Orion, Osco, Geneseo and Cambridge Fire Departments and Genesis Ambulance.  In total, five Fire Chiefs, 50 firefighters, four engines, eight Tenders, one Ladder Truck and two ambulances responded to the fire.

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