Fire engulfs New Lenox farmhouse
By Erin Gallagher Correspondent January 11, 2014 11:39AM
Updated: February 13, 2014 6:55AM
As he watched his childhood home continue to smolder, Roman Styzinski said all he could think about were his memories growing up there.
His mother’s New Lenox farmhouse burned to the ground Friday night. Everyone, including the cat, was unharmed.
The two-story house, which was built in the 1800s, had what Styzinski believed to be an electrical fire. It started on the front porch, which was added in the 1970s.
More than a half-mile drive up a hill in the 12000 block of West Laraway Road, the property had been a mushroom farm. On Saturday, it was a pile of ash and burnt timber.
“There is nothing left,” said Styzinski’s mother, Janina, 66. “At least nobody was hurt.”
The alarm sounded at 10:08 p.m. Friday, according to Marisa Schrieber, New Lenox Fire Protection District public education coordinator.
“By the time we got there, it was actually fully involved,” she said.
The fire was driven by the night’s high winds, creating a total loss. Firefighters were there until nearly 3 a.m. Saturday.
About 10:30 p.m., Janina Styzinski called her son, who now lives in Manhattan. She had been living in the family home with her older cousin, who also is named Janina. Both women are Polish emigrants.
Ordinarily, the women both are asleep by that time of night. However, Roman Styzinski said his mother had stayed up longer in order to add to the wood-burning stove they used to heat the house. He said that is what saved their lives.
On Saturday morning, after the firefighters left, tears came to his eyes. His mind filled with memories, he said.
“I grew up here. We had 33 horses at one time,” he said. “Yeah, not much you can do now. Nobody got hurt, that’s the important thing.”
Firefighters from New Lenox, Mokena, Frankfort, Joliet and Manhattan responded to the fire, New Lenox firefighter Lucas Rettke said.
The cause of the fire had not been determined.