Brookfield firefighters made quick work of a fire that consumed a garage in the 3900 block of Vernon Avenue early Sunday morning, but the village’s fire chief said that the presence of combustible materials inside the structure could have made it much worse.

Police and firefighters received the call just before 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. When they arrived the one-car garage was completely engulfed in flames. According to Fire Chief Patrick Lenzi, the fire downed a power line leading to the main home and flames appeared to be leaping 30 feet into the air.

Lenzi said that the “leaping” effect was the result of pine needles from nearby trees catching fire. Firefighters knocked down the flames quickly, extinguishing the blaze within 10 to 15 minutes, Lenzi said.

However, Lenzi increased the alarm at the sight of the flames, the downed line and the knowledge that there were an unknown number of oxygen and acetylene tanks inside the garage.

“The first report we had was there were multiple tanks, but it turned out to be one of each,” Lenzi said. The tanks were “definitely impinged,” said Lenzi. “They were blackened, but were able to be cooled before they exploded.”

The flames damaged the roof area of another garage to the north, and firefighters needed to force the service door of that garage to get inside. Damage was mainly restricted to the roof area, according to Lenzi.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Lenzi declined to state whether the incident is considered suspicious.

Police reported that the residents of the home were asleep when the fire broke out. A 10-year-old girl living in the home told police that she heard her dogs barking and noticed a bright light shining through the windows of the basement, where she was sleeping.

She went upstairs to check on the dogs, saw the fire and began screaming, which woke up her family members. The girl’s father told police he was awakened by a “loud popping” noise and his wife yelling that the garage was on fire.

Another neighbor also reported hearing a loud popping noise and smelled smoke, but thought a neighbor was having a backyard bonfire. Other neighbors said they were unaware of the fire until police came to the door, asking them to leave their home for safety reasons.

– Bob Uphues