After losing home to tornado, second home lost to fire
RANTOUL - A couple who lost their home to the tornado that struck Gifford Nov. 17
lost a second home in Rantoul Sunday morning.
This time fire was the cause of the blaze at the home of Harley and
Shirley LaBounty. Also living there was her mother, Emma Carpenter, at
1700 Eater Drive.
Harley LaBounty and Carpenter were at home at the time of the fire. They
were not injured. Shirley LaBounty was at the home of her daughter
recuperating at the home of her daughter following surgery.
The LaBountys had moved to the Eater Drive address after the devastating
tornado that destroyed much of Gifford.
Rantoul Fire Chief Ken Waters said Harley LaBounty was trying to start his
car in the garage. LaBounty’s son, Mike, said a wiring problem in the car
is believed to be the cause of the fire.
“He went back in the house ... and the fire ignited under the hood,”
destroying the garage, the car and causing smoke and heat damaging
throughout the house, Waters said.
Waters estimated total damage to the house, which is owned by a relative
of the LaBountys, Virginia Cozad, at $103,000.
A neighbor across the street saw flames coming from the house and alerted
the fire department.
Firefighters were called at 7:50 a.m. and cleared the scene at 10:30 a.m.
Waters said there were no injuries, but he said he feared the worst when
he drove up to the scene and saw people carrying Carpenter out the front
Carpenter uses a walker, and carrying her was the fastest way to get her
out, Mike LaBounty said.
The fire was the latest blow to the LaBountys, who not only lost their
house in the tornado, but also their vehicle. Waters said they had also
recently purchased the vehicle that was in the garage.
“Harley had lost his house over in Gifford, and ... moved here, and they
lost everything. They still had stuff boxed up in the house, TVs,” Waters
A wrecker was called to pull the burning vehicle out of the garage.
Firefighters then finished extinguishing it.
The fire chief said the LaBountys have insurance.
Nineteen firefighters responded to the call with two engines and a rescue
Waters said the department received an automatic alarm of a water-flow
problem at Country Tyme Lanes bowling alley when firefighters tapped the
hydrant to fight the LaBounty fire. He said it appeared to have been a
false alarm caused by opening the hydrant.
The Rantoul Street Department was called out to put down salt to get rid
of ice around the fire scene.
Waters said water service to the house was turned off after the fire to
eliminate pipes bursting.
Mike LaBounty said his father will stay with him, and his stepmother with
He said his father, who is 85, “is doing fine” and said they bought a
house on Gifford’s west side but hadn’t finalized the deal yet.