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Hoffman house damaged in fire
By Ashok Selvam, Eric Peterson and Justin Kmitch | Daily Herald Staff

An Alder Drive home in Hoffman Estates appears to have been gutted in a fire Thursday.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Hoffman Estates Fire Department Capt. David Savone was among the responders to a house fire Thursday at 1919 Alder Drive.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Hoffman Estates firefighters work a house fire in Thursday's arctic weather.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

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Published: 1/15/2009 6:22 PM | Updated: 1/15/2009 10:45 PM

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A Hoffman Estates home once owned by Willow Creek Community Church founder Bill Hybels was destroyed Thursday in an afternoon fire that caused more than $450,000 in damage.

Two Hoffman Estates firefighters and one unidentified resident suffered minor injuries caused by slips and falls as firefighters braved temperatures that dipped past 12 degrees below zero while battling flames at 1919 Alder Drive, not far from the South Barrington church.

Battalion Chief Tom Mackie said the fire started just before 3:30 p.m. in the home's attached garage but a cause had not yet been determined.

The home's interior, he said, sustained smoke damage while the more serious flame damage was contained to the garage. Firefighters had to open up some interior walls, however, to reach the fire as it spread into the home.

Mackie said the freezing conditions added to the hazards faced by the dozens of firefighters at the scene.

"We had air packs freezing, face pieces freezing over and we're working on a sheet of ice once the water starts flowing," Mackie said. "So the temperature really hampered our efforts to putting out fire."

The frame house with attached two-car garage was built in 1977.

Hybels, while attending a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Thursday evening in Arlington Heights at which he was scheduled to speak, confirmed that the home now belongs to his son Todd. The elder Hybels said Todd is currently traveling abroad and that the home was being rented to the family of a church staff member.

Mackie said the residents have been taken in by the American Red Cross until other living arrangements can be made.

Bill Hybels in 1975 founded Willow Creek and the church moved in 1981 to its South Barrington quarters. He's the church's senior pastor, and Willow Creek is routinely listed as one of the most influential and largest evangelical congregations in the country.