DeKALB – Several first responders who helped with rescue efforts during a large apartment complex fire earlier this month were recognized for their work during this week’s DeKalb City Council meeting.
DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas said during the City Council meeting Monday night that multiple calls came in about 4:30 a.m. Feb. 12 for an apartment fire at the High Meadows apartment complex on West Lincoln Highway. He said first responders found heavy smoke pushing from the lower-level apartment, with one male victim lying outside with severe injuries. Northern Illinois University Police Officer Matt Lave and DeKalb firefighter paramedics Jared Thorpe and Adam Miller went into the apartment to help a female victim lying unconscious in a back bedroom.
“That was pretty gutsy and obviously they weren’t thinking of themselves when they did that,” Nicklas said after the meeting.
The two victims had life-threatening injuries and were air-lifted to a burn trauma center in Rockford, where they are currently receiving intensive medical treatment, according to Nicklas. First responders also helped rescue two cats from the fire.
Nicklas said other emergency response professionals performed with merit and were deserving of recognition, including Cap. Luke Howieson and firefighter paramedics Travis Karr, Pat Eriksen, Jon Ritter, Joe Long, Chris Krupa and Trevor Chilton from DeKalb Fire Department. DeKalb 911 dispatchers Keller Kurth and Samantha McMeen – along with NIU Police Officer David Jadran, DeKalb Police Officer Kevin Ballschmiede and DeKalb Police Sgt. Keunte Mallett – also were recognized for their roles in responding to the emergency call.
The presentation came after the community started rallying around the two victims of the apartment fire last week. As a result, two separate GoFundMe accounts for Matt Zamudio and Alyssa Noonen – both of whom lived in an apartment within the complex in the 1400 block of West Lincoln Highway – have been collecting donations to financially aid their recovery.
The flames and smoke gutted the apartment and it was deemed uninhabitable.
DeKalb Fire Chief Jeff McMaster said after the Monday meeting local fire officials are still awaiting the opinion from the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office as to what caused the fire.
“It’s still considered under investigation,” McMaster said.
Meanwhile, city officials also recognized the life’s work of the third and most recent woman to serve as a former mayor for the City of DeKalb during the Monday meeting.
Aldermen and public attendees also stood for a moment of silence in honor of former DeKalb Mayor and Fifth Ward Alderwoman Bessie Chronopoulos, who died on Sunday. She was 72.