Wilmette man burns tree stump, accidentally sets garage on fire

A ladder struck stretches to its impressive length during the Oct. 5 Wilmette Fire Department open house.   |  Kathy Routliffe/Sun-Times Media
A ladder struck stretches to its impressive length during the Oct. 5 Wilmette Fire Department open house. | Kathy Routliffe/Sun-Times Media

Sometimes, when dealing with backyard brush and such, it’s worth taking a step back and asking oneself whether eradicating an unwanted bit of flora actually necessitates desperate measures.

A Wilmette homeowner who inadvertently set fire to his garage July 19, after choosing a somewhat unorthodox method to complete just such an eradication, is now left to ponder not only his pruning choices but the estimated $10,000 damage he caused the garage, according to a police report.

Officers were called to the 500 block of Gregory Avenue shortly after 2:30 a.m. to assist firefighters who were dealing with the fire, which a neighbor reported to the fire department after noticing flames coming from the building.

Police said the property owner told them around noon of the previous day, he had chopped down a tree that stood next to the garage. He then placed hot charcoal on the stump in an attempt to burn it down farther.

After throwing dirt on top of the coals, the homeowner ended his task and walked away – apparently unaware that the coals, far from being safely out, actually continued to burn for the remainder of the day.

According to police, he told officers on the scene that he believed that was the reason for the fire.

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