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Man held by police after car crashes into Hainesville home, bursts into flames

Friday, October 25, 2013
Car crashes into Hainesville home, bursts into flames Car crashes into Hainesville home, bursts into flames

A car struck a townhome, broke a gas line and burst into flames in north suburban Hainesville early Friday morning.

PHOTOS: Car hits home, bursts into flames

As police held a man in custody who may be the driver of the vehicle, the homeowner spoke Friday afternoon about how she got her family to safety.

"There's nothing left. There's nothing left. It's burned down to the ground," said Lieka Racho, homeowner.

Lieka Racho looked at what's left of her home just hours after a SUV careened into her townhouse and hit a gas line, causing a massive fire.

"I heard a car trying to hit the brakes and I felt the impact if a car hitting our house," said Racho.

The crash happened around 4 a.m. Friday morning. That's when authorities say it appears a vehicle traveling southbound on Hainesville Road veered into the northbound lanes, took out a large sign, and went another 500 feet before plowing into the Patriot Drive residence. Racho's husband was at work.

"I heard some hissing sound in the garage. I saw smoke and that's what prompted me to grab the kids and get out of the house," said Racho.

Grayslake police officer Mario Balarin happened to be in the area and was the first on the scene. He says he tried to rescue the vehicle's driver who he thought was trapped, after hearing what he says sounded like a gunshot.

"I was able to break a couple of windows to see if someone was in there. There was lots of smoke, it was hard to breathe. I had to get out of there," said Officer Mario Balarin, Grayslake Police Department.

The fire was put out after burning nearly three hours.

On Friday afternoon, police say a "person of interest" is under police guard at the hospital while being treated for hypothermia. Authorities stopped short of saying the 32-year-old man is the driver of the SUV, which is owned by a Kenosha, Wis. woman. But they say he fled the scene and was found hiding under a pickup truck a few blocks away.

"The owner of the vehicle was able to give us a name of the person who she believed was driving it, and that indeed is our person of interest," said Chief Phil Perlini, Grayslake Police Department.

Police have not said whether alcohol was a factor in the crash. Criminal charges have not yet been filed.

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