Fire displaces residents from Wauconda senior apartments

25-unit St. John Kuester Manor left uninhabitable after attic fire

A 25-unit senior apartment building in Wauconda was left uninhabitable after a fire in the attic/roof area Tuesday afternoon.

No injuries were reported but residents of St. John Kuester Manor senior apartments at 310 Osage St. had to be relocated. All tenants are in temporary housing.

The fire was determined to be accidental and originated from a contracted vendor installing HVAC equipment on the premises, according to the Lake County Housing Authority, which operates the facility.

“We understand the concern and distress this may cause, but we want to assure you that the safety and well-being of our tenants remain our utmost priority,” the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

All residents are confirmed safe and uninjured, according to the housing authority, which credited the quick response and collaboration among fire departments as ensuring resident safety. Seventeen tenants are being lodged at a local hotel and eight are with family or friends.

Firefighters from the Wauconda Fire District were dispatched to the facility for the smell of smoke about 3:12 p.m. Several more 911 calls were received with one reporting heavy smoke billowing from the roof, according to the district.

Firefighters arrived in less than 3 minutes and found heavy smoke and fire rising from the roof/attic area of the three-story section of the building, according to a news release.

Firefighters immediately began evacuating residents from the building and were assisted by additional firefighters and Wauconda police going door to door to get residents out.

Ten departments and the Salvation Army responded to an alarm for additional resources. Barrington-Countryside, Fox River Grove, Woodstock, Spring Grove and Mundelein staffed Wauconda stations.

Fire crews working in the attic extinguished the majority of the flames and ladder trucks were positioned to protect the roof and other areas of the building.

According to the news release, the bulk of the fire was in the attic but smoke and water damage throughout the building made it uninhabitable. All living areas were protected by fire sprinklers and smoke detectors.

The Wauconda Park District and Wauconda Township provided a bus to shelter residents at the scene and Wauconda Grade School was opened to keep residents warm and dry, according to the release.

The housing authority and American Red Cross were working to relocate residents. Firefighters and police helped residents gather essential items and check on pets after the blaze was put out.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Wauconda Fire District and Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal. A damage estimate was not available.

“Rest assured, the Lake County Housing Authority is dedicated to rehousing any displaced tenants and restoring the affected property as swiftly as possible,” the agency said.

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