Fire crews handle increasing calls

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RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) — An increase in fire calls is keeping a couple fire departments busier than usual. It’s affected crews in Rantoul and Thomasboro. They’ve been called to seven fires in the past week. There isn’t a specific cause because the fires are starting for a variety of reasons, but many are from chimneys or ovens. Still, whatever the cause, that makes this a tough past week for crews.

“It’s very taxing. Physically, emotionally, and financially as well,” said Thomasboro Fire Chief Paul Cundiff.

Most of us know, the job of a firefighter is no easy one and as volunteer departments both Rantoul and Thomasboro crews are giving up their free time to do it. Thomasboro firefighters spent most of the night at a house fire near Rantoul.

“The way the attic was designed; it was very difficult to get to. They had to pull the entire ceiling down, haul all the cellulose outside, and wet it all down,” said Cundiff.

Those are challenges they’re used to, but for this many days in a row, the pattern is getting exhausting.

“They’ll sleep well tonight, I’m sure, if we don’t have another call,” said Rantoul Fire Chief Ken Waters.

Neighboring fire department, Rantoul, is called to many of the same calls as Thomasboro. There have been seven fires since New Year’s Eve. The damages to buildings is trumping 2019 already.

“Last year we had a dollar loss of $443,500,” said Waters. “This year we’ve already tripled that with two fires.”

One thing they can all agree on is it’s time for a break.

“I asked that to one of our newest firefighters, I said, how do you like it now? And he just shook his head and say wow I never thought it’d be like this.”

Fire crews are still investigating the cause of last night’s fire. So far, none of them have involved foul play. The Thomasboro Fire Department is looking for volunteers. It has 20 people right now, but want that number to be closer to 35.

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