UTICA, Ill. (WMBD) – The investigation into a massive fire that destroyed several cabins at Grand Bear Resort in Utica is underway.
On Memorial Day, at about 5:30 p.m., a large fire swept through a portion of the resort and left behind destruction in its path.
“It was a bad fire. It was a horrible, horrible day,” said Matthew Kosch, vice president at Grand Bear Resort.
Fire officials said what started as a call about a porch fire turned into a blaze destroying seven cabins, which held a total of 28 homes.
Tuesday, crews worked to put out additional hotspots.
“We’re not a stranger to big events but as far as large incidents go, this is one that you could say would be a once in a career fire,” said Drew Partain, assistant fire chief with Utica Fire Protection District.
During the blaze, 61 fire departments responded to the resort, which Partain said is a high-risk occupancy.
“Meaning we have a lot of people out here. So we know when we get dispatched for a fire that we need a lot of help because we have all these units with people in them that we need to make sure they got out,” Partain said.
Management at Grand Bear Resort said luckily no one was hurt and much of the resort is intact.
“Everybody’s OK, our hotel is OK, the water park’s OK,” Kosch said.
Now, the focus is on helping the families that lost their homes.
“They know rather it’s clothes, if we can provide that and help them right now, we’re here,” Kosch said.
Partain said the fire does not appear to be suspicious.
Families that live in surrounding cabins and villas are expected to be able to return to the resort sometime Tuesday night. The Red Cross has been set up at the North Utica Police Department building to help displaced families, some are being accommodated at the resort.
Partain added that strong winds on Monday allowed the fire to quickly spread from cabin to cabin.