RANTOUL — Food left on a stove led to a fire that has left a Rantoul couple without a home.
Rantoul Fire Chief Ken Waters said a person walking by the small ranch home at 1132 Briarcliff Drive on the north side of the village about 7:15 a.m. Tuesday saw flames and called for help.
"It was pretty involved," Waters said of what firefighters saw when they arrived.
"The fire was throughout the house, including the attic. It had a big head start before we got there," he said.
"There is nothing left — contents or the building. There was a car in the driveway and it was involved in the fire also," the chief said.
Waters said the home is owned by the Cox Property Group, and rented by Sharia Moore and Kerry Walker. They were not home at the time.
Waters said he had not spoken to them personally but said he learned that they had accidentally left food cooking on the stove, which led to the blaze.
The couple did not have renter's insurance, he said, and were being put up at an Urbana motel by the American Red Cross.
The house was insured.
Waters estimated the damage to the building and contents at $65,000. That did not include the value of the sport utility vehicle in the driveway that was destroyed.
Firefighters were working in bitter cold temperatures Tuesday morning, which led to at least one snafu.
"We ran a line to the hydrant and the hydrant wouldn't open. The stem, where we put a wrench on the top to open it, snapped," Waters said.
The fire department, assisted by Thomasboro firefighters, got the blaze put out with "plenty of water" from their trucks.
They were at the house about two hours.
No one was injured, "just cold," said Waters.