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Books Donated to BG Schools in Fire Victim's Memory

Kilmer Elementary School's library received new books Wednesday, donated in honor of a toddler who died in a 1994 fire across the street from the school. The Buffalo Grove Fire Department will deliver books to two more schools next week.

Kilmer Elementary School students have some new books to read, thanks to a donation to the school library Wednesday by the Buffalo Grove Fire Department.

The books, which contain stories about fire safety, fire trucks and other related topics, were provided in memory of Grant Wonders, a 2-year-old who died in a house fire on Jan. 27, 1994.

The child’s family lived across the street from Kilmer School. The fire was caused by the boy playing with a lighter, said John Gilleran, the department’s public education and information officer.

Soon after, the Buffalo Grove Fire Department established a fund in Grant’s name to benefit fire safety education for young children.

“A memorial fund was set up because there were a number of inquiries from people wanting to donate money,” Gilleran said.

The Buffalo Grove Professional Firefighter and Paramedic Association also donated money at the time to have special fire truck bookcases built by then-Battalion Chief Gary Belfield. The cases could be closed, latched and moved around Buffalo Grove elementary schools with the books safely on the shelves inside. They were filled with books purchased with money from the Grant Wonders memorial fund.

Gilleran said he was unsure how much money the fund once held, but the department discovered through a recent audit that $300 remained in the fund. The money was used this week to purchase 30 new books that will be divided among Kilmer, Longfellow and St. Mary schools, which all still use the fire truck bookcases.

“It is the greatest hope of the members of the Buffalo Grove Fire Department that, through education, no one ever again has to go through the heart ache of losing a child to fire,” the department said in a press release.

Gilleran said the books were purchased at Rainbow Books in Lake Zurich, which sold them to the fire department at the store’s cost. The store also donated three books toward the effort, he said.

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