Naperville, IL – By Bill Bird, Naperville Sun

Northern Illinois’ ongoing drought apparently played a role in a fire Sunday eveningthat did $35,000 damage to a house in far southwestern Naperville.

A shift in the parched earth well below the surface of the ground apparently pulled a buried natural gas line away from a coupling outside a home at 1124 Cordula Circle, Assistant Naperville Fire Chief Michael A. Zywanski said Monday.

That, in turn, caused a gas leak and sparked a fire around 6:09 p.m. Sunday that engulfed a barbecue grill and spread to an exterior wall at the rear of the two-story house, Zywanski said.

Such gas leaks are fairly common during periods of extremely dry weather, Zywanski said, adding there is little homeowners can do to prevent them.

Twenty-nine firefighters and 11 pieces of apparatus were sent to the scene of the blaze in the Rose Hill Farm area.

No one was injured, and the flames were extinguished within five minutes, Battalion Chief Richard G. Polarek said in a written statement.

Most of the damage was confined to the exterior, although “moderate smoke conditions” also were noted inside the home, he said.

A thermal imaging camera was used to check potential “hot spots” and to ensure fire had not spread into the attic, interior walls or heating and cooling ducts, Polarek said.

Fire Department, Nicor Gas and city building inspectors also were called to the scene.