Evanston teenager Luke Austen-Smith was honored at Monday’s City Council meeting for his role in helping save lives when lightning struck a house on Forest Avenue this summer.

Luke Austen-Smith with Evanston Interim Fire Chief Greg Klaiber.

Interim Fire Chief Greg Klaiber read a commendation praising Austen-Smith’s quick thinking when he saw a fire that had started from a lightning strike a third floor turret atop the home at 1246 Forest Ave. as he was driving through the neighborhood with a friend, Liza Alexis-Ferguson, on the stormy evening.

Klaiber said the while Alexis-Ferguson called 911, Austen-Smith ran to the house and ran the doorbell, alerting the two people in the home to the fire so they could escape safely.

(Evanston Fire Department photo.)

Klaiber says firefighters, quickly alerted to the blaze, arrived within three minutes and were able to limit the damage to the third floor.

Related story

Lightning strike starts fire on Forest

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. What a wonderful thing to see

    What a wonderful thing to see a stellar young man being recognized by the community.      Way to go Luke!!!

  2. Luke Austin-Smith’s Quick Thinking

    Luke–You are a remarkably well-grounded young man. Good quick thinking!

    I applaud your dedication.


  3. Fire on Forest

    Yes, Luke’s actions were great, and he deserves all the praise he gets.

    But this story also demonstrates, once again, the superiority of modern fire safety  standards.

    A wooden house – especially one with a little round tower – seems like a magnet for lightning.

    Evanston’s building code should require that all new houses be built of glass , steel, and concrete – with sprinklers and fire alarms.

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