Historic Hinsdale home burned in massive fire

HINSDALE, Ill. (WLS) -- Firefighters battled a massive blaze at a historic home in west suburban Hinsdale Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency crews responded to the scene in the 300-block of East 6th Street.

The home was built in 1899 and is considered a national treasure once known as "American Beauty."

"It's heartbreaking. That house has been a mainstay in Hinsdale for 130 years," said Julie Laux, neighbor. "We've just lost a piece of history. We've lost a way to connect to our past. This is elegant and gracious and just a reminder of when life was so much different than it is right now."

Firefighters said the historic home was built in a much different way than modern construction, which made it burn more intensely.

"It's actually a balloon frame house, so the fire spreads very quickly," said Hinsdale Fire Chief John Giannelli. "Balloon frame means there is no fire stopping in that building, so once you get a fire inside a wall it can drop all the way to the basement, it can go all the way to the roof."

Firefighters fought flames and smoke inside the home for as long as they could, but eventually had to leave for their own safety.

"Conditions made it almost impossible to keep them on the third floor," Giannelli said.

Outside, crews doused the flames for hours, saturating the entire house with water.

The home's new owners were out of town, fire officials said. Firefighers were able to rescue their dog from the home.

"I'm devastated for these people. I don't know them but it's got to be absolutely heartbreaking. They've got little kids and all your personal belongings and memories," Laux said.

The cause of the fire is not known and an investigation is ongoing. No injuries were reported.
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