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By Devin Rose
The Oak Park Fire Department is still investigating what caused a fire Wednesday evening that destroyed a house in the 800 block of North Lombard Avenue and kept firefighters at the scene until this morning.
Battalion Chief Ron Kobyleski said no one was injured in the fire that started around 4 p.m. Wednesday and took about five hours to put out. Firefighters stayed at the house through the night to make sure the blaze did not rekindle and left around 10 a.m. Thursday, he said.
The home's owner was not in the home when the fire started, but three other people were evacuated from neighboring homes because of the threat of building collapse, Kobyleski said. Those two homes sustained minor damage, and occupants had not been allowed back in as of Thursday morning. There is heavy damage throughout the affected two-story house that prevents firefighters from entering. By Thursday morning, both floors had collapsed.
"It looks to be a total loss," Kobyleski said.
On Wednesday, fire crews were seen forcing entry into one neighboring home by smashing in the front door and evacuating an elderly woman from the house on the other side. There were visible flames on both floors and fire and police crews shut down the entire block to traffic for hours.
Firefighters have not identified where the fire started. It's still undetermined whether the fire is suspicious in nature.
Kobyleski said staff from the village's Building and Property Standards Department are assessing whether the structure needs to come down immediately. Dismantling the home would be necessary so that investigators could be let back in. No one was available for comment Thursday afternoon at the Building and Property Standards Department.
Eight other municipalities assisted the Oak Park Fire Department.
Graham Johnston contribued to this story.