Red Cross helps residents of Oswego Township apartment fire

Local and regional organizations are assisting the victims of a Nov. 6 apartment building fire that displaced 24 families in unincorporated Oswego Township.

The apartment building is located in the Shore Heights Village apartment complex off Light Road, immediately east of Augusta Road.

Catherine Rabenstine, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois, said Tuesday that the Red Cross provided victims with “assistance with food, lodging and other immediate needs.”

“We go right to the scene of the emergency and open individual cases for families so we can help walk people through their immediate needs and provide resources,” Rabenstine said. “In this case, we also opened a reception center, where families could come for Red Cross resources the day the home fire took place.”

The Kendall County Community Food Pantry and the St. Vincent de Paul organization also offered assistance, Rabenstine said.

Rabenstine said the Oswego community has united in the aftermath of the fire.

“Responding to disasters like a home fire is a community effort and the Oswego community truly has come together to make sure the people affected have what they need,” she said.

Rabenstine recommended people who want to help visit and make a financial donation, schedule an appointment to donate blood or apply to be a Red Cross volunteer.

Oswego Fire Protection District Assistant Fire Chief John Cornish said Tuesday that most of the damage caused by the fire was contained inside the two-story 24-unit apartment building. The building was constructed in 1972, according to Kendall County property records.

Cornish said the fire started in the wall of an upstairs apartment where a maintenance worker, who had been working on a pipe, and a resident unsuccessfully attempted to put it out before calling the fire department.

“The fire spread up the wall and into the attic,” Cornish said.

The fire caused extensive damage to four upstairs apartments, while the downstairs units experienced water damage, according to Cornish.

“There was smoke damage throughout the building,” he noted.

Cornish said firefighters were summoned to the blaze at 10:36 a.m. and remained at the scene until 2:30 p.m.

No residents or firefighters were injured, he said.

Brian Holdiman, Kendall County’s building code official, said Tuesday that he deemed the apartment building uninhabitable after inspecting it Tuesday morning. He said he spoke with representatives of the management company for the complex, and that the company is having a contractor and the insurance company evaluate the building on Wednesday.

“I would assume that they can rebuild the structure, but I won’t know for sure until I got those reports from the contractor,” Holdiman said.

The units at the ends of the building suffered the least damage, Holdiman said.

“There’s not a lot of smoke damage or water damage in the end units,” he said.

However, Holdiman said another question mark is the electrical system in the building, as well as the HVAC system, and he wants those looked at before he deems it safe to turn the power on in the building.

“Until we have those systems evaluated, I don’t feel safe letting anybody turn the power back on,” he said.

After the building is evaluated, and it’s deemed safe, the building officials “most likely” may allow residents to occupy the end units, he said.

John Etheredge contributed to this story