DeKALB – At least seven residents in the Hunter Ridgebrook apartment complex at 808 Ridge Drive in DeKalb were displaced after two apartments were deemed uninhabitable from an early Tuesday fire in the building, fire officials say.
DeKalb Dep. Fire Chief Bart Gilmore said Tuesday afternoon the fire was called in at 1:49 a.m. that morning. He said a family within the apartment building smelled smoke over a period of an hour or two.
“At some point, they went to one of the [apartment’s] floors and they felt heat,” Gilmore said. “And then they called the fire department.”
Gilmore said the fire appeared to have started in the ceiling of a garden level apartment and the floor of the apartment above. He confirmed there were no injuries related to the fire.
“Everybody evacuated,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore confirmed both apartments were deemed uninhabitable. He said two families, one from each apartment, were displaced and about $2,000 worth of damage resulted from the fire.
“Everyone else was allowed to go back in shortly after we got there,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore said there were six people in the upstairs apartment and fire officials believe there is one person in the garden level apartment.
“We never confirmed that because we weren’t able to make contact” with the garden level apartment occupant, Gilmore said.
The apartment complex has been the site of numerous fires over the years, including most recently after DeKalb police and fire investigators say a fire which reportedly began in the stairwell of the Hunter Ridgebrook Drive apartment complex was the result of a suspected arson in May 2021. That came after a slew of suspected arsons reported at the building since 2018, including a fire on the third floor of the apartment building in July of 2019 which forced tenants to leap from the balconies and displaced more than 100 residents. The building was condemned for a period and then reopened when fire and safety code regulations were met. As part of a City of DeKalb settlement agreement approved in April, 808 Ridge Drive is also on the list of properties which current owner Hunter Properties is required to sell within two years.
When asked what the cause of the Tuesday fire was and whether it appeared to be accidental or suspicious, Gilmore said the incident remains under investigation with city fire investigators. He said the Illinois state fire marshal’s office was not called in for this incident.
“It doesn’t appear to be malicious,” Gilmore said.