With Pheasant Run fire extinguished, focus turns to cause of massive blaze
As firefighters extinguished the last smoldering remains from a massive fire that charred large parts of the shuttered Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, police and fire investigators turned their attention Sunday to determining what sparked the blaze.
A St. Charles police official said investigators were canvassing the area Sunday to learn whether there was any suspicious activity on or around the property before the fire, which caused extensive damage to multiple buildings at the 18-acre resort.
"Many questions are unanswered at the moment but we will provide answers as they become available," Deputy Chief Erik Mahan said in an email.
The fire broke out Saturday afternoon, sending huge plumes of smoke into the sky surrounding the closed resort and drawing dozens of onlookers who stood along nearby roads to take in the scene.
No firefighters or civilians were injured in the fire, officials said.
Mahan said there is no evidence anyone had been living on the closed property before Saturday's fire.
"There had been some case of vandalism, such as broken windows, over the last year or so," he added. "Our patrol officers regularly check the property on their shifts and the property owner did provide for private security patrols as well."
According to the fire department, firefighters called to the resort at 4:41 p.m. Saturday arrived four minutes later to find fire coming from multiple areas within the buildings. Firefighters worked to cut off the spread of flames in every direction, using large hand lines, portable monitors, and elevated master streams, authorities said.
Officials announced at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday the fire had been contained and said it was extinguished late Sunday afternoon. The fire was contained to the center structures of the complex, officials said.
The St. Charles Fire Department battled the blaze with help from more than 20 area fire departments, as well as St. Charles police, Emergency Management Agency, public works, the electric and water departments, the West Chicago Water Department and the Kane County Office of Emergency Management.
More onlookers gathered outside the property Sunday to view the damage and watch firefighters work from a distance. Police installed road barricades on both sides Route 64 and strung police tape along the shoulder to keep cars away, and city officials asked drivers not to stop to check out the scene.
Rick and Channette Hambel of Winfield were on their way to the nearby Menards Saturday afternoon when they saw the heavy smoke.
"It was just rolling and rolling," Rick Hambel said of the billows of black smoke rising from the flames. "That fire was so hot."
On Sunday, the Hambels were among a steady stream of onlookers who stood across the street from the resort taking in the damage.
"It's a shame," Rick Hambel said, as he and his wife looked at the charred remains from a parking lot across the street. "It was a pretty cool place."
Onlookers talked to each other about their memories of the hotel. Saturday's fire cemented the fate of the resort for some.
"This kind of makes it a little more real that it's gone," said Bartlett resident Jessica Farwell, who previously held a pool membership to take her children swimming at the resort.
"I really liked it," added her 10-year-old son, Logan. "It was just fun."
Others tried to point out where various features of the hotel -- Bourbon Street, the comedy club, the pool and its restaurants -- were located in comparison to the burned out remains of wings that housed guest rooms.
"I remember my dad going on business trips out to Pheasant Run and it was a big deal," said Mike Mastropolo, who saw the fire Saturday on his way to his West Chicago home. "It was the big resort."
Pheasant Run has been closed since March 2020 after attempts to auction the property were unsuccessful.
In November, the St. Charles city council's planning and development committee recommended approval of a zoning map amendment that would clear the way for a proposed Pheasant Run Industrial Park.
GSI Family Investments of Arizona LLC purchased the Pheasant Run Resort golf course from the DuPage Airport Authority for about $11.3 million, and wants to construct four industrial buildings totaling more than one million square feet along with 13 acres of stormwater detention.
City staff recently recommended a tax increment financing district be created to assist with the redevelopment efforts.
McGrath Honda is redeveloping the former Pheasant Run Mega Center adjacent to the resort property.