DeKALB – Another fire was extinguished Thursday at a building owned by embattled landlord Hunter Properties – this time at a building at 930 Greenbrier Road – leading to the evacuation of more apartments, DeKalb fire officials said.
Like a fire that had been found and quickly extinguished at the Ridgebrook Apartments in June, this fire was started in a laundry room. However, this one caused about $50,000 worth of damage, according to a news release from the DeKalb Fire Department. Authorities suspect that this – like three previous fires this summer at the Ridgebrook Apartments – was intentionally set.
According to a Northern Illinois University safety bulletin, crews were called to the scene of a fire at 5:13 a.m. Thursday. Firefighters arrived to find smoke coming out of the windows of the building, the release shows. Firefighters used a hose and water to put out the flames, with fire, smoke and water damage confined to the basement level of the building, according to the release.
Garden apartments on the basement level were declared uninhabitable Thursday. DeKalb Fire Chief Jeff McMaster said that 10 people had been forced from their homes and are being assisted by the American Red Cross for food and shelter.
Petragallo said there were no injuries, but police and fire crews are still on the scene.
"I don't believe the fire got very big," Petragallo said. "It is definitely a suspected arson. So we're just trying to find out more about it."
Petragallo said investigators are still trying to determine whether this incident is connected to others in the area.
"It was a common area," said DeKalb Fire Chief Jeff McMaster. "I don't know exactly what was set on fire. We know it was in the laundry area. It's on the garden level, like a half basement. The fire was determined under control in a half hour."
In addition to DeKalb firefighters, crews from the Cortland, Malta, Shabbona and Sycamore fire departments responded to the scene. NIU police also were called.
City Manager Bill Nicklas confirmed Thursday morning that the building is also owned by Hunter Properties, the same owner of 808 Ridge Drive, where a Tuesday night fire displaced 140 residents.
This is a developing story. This story will be updated.