A man is in critical condition after a five-alarm fire broke out Tuesday morning inside a unit at Stateline Self Storage in Roscoe, Ill. The victim was conscious when airlifted to a local hospital, but suffered serious burns, according to a source.
Black smoke was visible for miles as the blaze destroyed six units and damaged the roof of the property at 12905 N. Second St. Vic Anucauskas, who owns the storage facility and the adjacent Annon Auto Sales, told the source his son first noticed the fire about 11:30 a.m.
The victim, whose name hasn’t been released, was a tenant of the facility, Anucauskas said. The man operated an auto-repair shop on the property and was working in the unit when the fire began.
Shari Ellis, a surgical technician, was working nearby at Advantage Chiropractic Wellness LLC when she noticed the smoke and headed to the site. As she was assisting the victim, he told her the fire started after a gasoline container was knocked over. Sources have provided contradictory reports on who tipped the can.
"I'm not sure what the ignition source was, but he said he had kicked the container out of his way and that's when his hands engulfed,” Ellis said, adding that the man’s hair, mustache and eyelashes were burned away. “And he was burned pretty much in the arms, his hands, his torso [and] was fairly burned. Apparently, he had to jump through the fire to get out of the building. He was going into shock and he was very afraid. He kept saying, 'I'm afraid.'"
Seventeen fire departments responded to the blaze. They were originally told the cars at a dealership on North Second Street were on fire, a source reported. Although the incident is under investigation, it appears to be accidental, Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department Chief Donald Shoevlin said.
While watching crews get the fire under control, Anucauskas expressed his concern for the tenant. "Buildings can be replaced. The gentleman who was in the building, I'm more concerned about."
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