SHOCKING photos from Grand Bear Resort in Utica show the aftermath of a wildfire that destroyed 28 homes on Memorial Day.
Shacks and villas were engulfed in flames as rescue workers entered the area at 5.30pm local time on Monday.
A crane was brought in to contain the blaze while firefighters worked to prevent it from spreading to nearby homes.
The Utica Fire Department told the local ABC News affiliate that 10 buildings were on fire and evacuations were underway.
Utica Assistant Fire Chief Drew Partain later told local media that seven cabins were lost to the fire.
Each cabin contains four units for a total of 28 homes destroyed in the fire.
He said someone called 911 to report a porch on fire at one of the cabins.
Firefighters got there to find two cabins completely engulfed in flames fanned by high winds.
The cabins are privately owned and separate from the lodge area of the resort.
“As you may know, a fire has broken out in a handful of cabin and villa buildings adjacent to Grand Bear Resort,” the resort’s management said on social media.
“Everyone on the property has been safely evacuated and the fire is currently being contained. At this time the lodge, water park and majority of the onsite cabins and villas are unaffected.”
A new statement was released via social media on Tuesday, thanking the community of North Utica and first responders for their quick response and takeover of the incident.
“Most importantly, we are grateful that the fire has been contained and no casualties have been reported.
“The Grand Bear Resort (main lodge, water park, food and beverage) and most of the cabins/villas will remain unaffected. Our water park will not be open today, but we expect to be back up and running within 24 hours.
“We understand that the Illinois Valley Red Cross is helping families displaced by this event and encourage anyone who would like to help or make a contribution to contact them directly.
Some people have lost everything in the flames.
Sheila Brombos and her husband smelled smoke as they prepared dinner.
“The next thing I know, I was walking by the window to do laundry and I saw the white smoke coming up and I yelled at him to call 911 and I ran out,” she told ABC7 .
Now her home is completely destroyed forever.
“It’s gone. It’s gone. All we have is the clothes we’re wearing,” she said. “In July it would have been four years. Just awful.”
Despite the immense loss, Brombos said she was grateful no one was injured in the fire.
“We’ve been together since we were 16 and we have each other. That’s all that matters,” she said.
The cause of the fire was not disclosed. No injuries were reported.
The smoke could be seen for miles as crews battled the blaze.
WMBD Chief Meteorologist Chris Yates reported that the smoke appeared on Chicago’s weather radar.
Grand Bear Lodge is located in Utica near Starved Rock in rural Illinois.
In addition to guest rooms, the resort offers cabins and villas.
The holiday villas have two floors and the luxury cottages have three.
The resort’s website states that many of the rooms have recently been renovated.
In addition to the guest rooms, cabins, and villas, the resort features a 24,000-square-foot indoor water park, arcade, fitness center, and several restaurants.
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/5456037/utica-grand-bear-fire-starved-rock-2022-resort/ Shocking images of the devastation at Utica Grand Bear Resort after a Memorial Day fire destroyed 28 homes near Starved Rock Lodge