Dryer blamed for fire near Rantoul

Dryer blamed for fire near Rantoul

RURAL RANTOUL — Investigators are blaming a dryer problem for a fire that destroyed a mobile home this week.

Firefighters were called at 5:20 p.m. Wednesday to No. 5, Fountain Valley Mobile Home Park, where a mobile home was heavily involved. It was a total loss.

The mobile home park sits just south of Rantoul but is in the Thomasboro Fire Protection District.

There were no injuries.

Thomasboro Fire Chief Paul Cundiff said Rantoul firefighters assisted. Eastern Prairie district firefighters stood by at the Thomasboro station.

Cundiff said investigators pointed to a problem with the home's clothes dryer for starting the blaze.

The mobile home had been occupied by Patsy Reinagle, who died Feb. 27. Her sister, Nancy Tennant of Oquawka, said relatives were in the mobile home and had been drying clothes and sorting items when the fire broke out.

Cundiff said Thomasboro firefighters were on the scene until 10:30 p.m. when investigators from the Champaign County investigative team were finished examining the home.

"They interviewed the residents, the people who were there," Cundiff said of the investigative team.

Cundiff said the fire was a difficult one to fight.

"There was a lot of clothing and furniture in the main rooms," he said. "The wind was blowing from west to east. The wind just went right through it and made it just like a chimney."

Rantoul Fire Chief Ken Waters said the fire "did not acknowledge our presence for the first half-hour or 45 minutes" — meaning it was almost as if they weren't pumping water on it.

"We were dumping water on it, and it was getting worse," Waters said. "That's when you back up and regroup and use the big guns."

Waters said Rantoul broke out its deluge pumper that pumps 1,000 gallons a minute.

"For 5 minutes they were putting that much water on it," Waters said. "They knocked it down."

Waters said the fire was "deep-seated."

"It had already gotten between the ceiling and the roof and under the floor," he said. "There was a lot of stuff in that trailer. There was a lot of stuff to feed on."

It marked the second fire at the mobile home park in less than a month. Three weeks earlier, fire destroyed a mobile home at the park that had been occupied by Amanda Ebert and Richard Rutledge.

Cundiff said that fire, which killed the couple's cat, was called in as having started around the mobile home's washer-dryer unit. That fire spread underneath the trailer.

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