Two St. Charles businesses and three residents of an upper-level apartment were displaced Sunday morning after a fire at 828 S. 3rd St. caused more than $450,000 in damage to the building and its contents. No one was injured.
A partial collapse of the structure prompted authorities to complete its demolition out of public safety concerns, St. Charles Fire Chief Joe Schelstreet said on Sunday afternoon.
Schelstreet said three people living in a second-floor apartment at 828 S. 3rd St. called 9-1-1 to report a smoke smell in the building at 5:38 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. Firefighters arrived five minutes later to find the heavy fire in the building’s basement.
Firefighters entering the building found the flames had spread rapidly to the first floor.
Schelstreet said that the size of the fire, combined with the inclement weather conditions, prompted the department to escalate the alarm to a second level MABAS Box Alarm, which brought more assistance to firefighters at the scene.
Firefighters knocked down the fire in about three hours, although firefighters remained on the scene after the blaze was extinguished to complete overhaul operations and to investigate the fire.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Schelstreet.
Schelstreet said the three occupants of the apartment evacuated the building on their own after making their 9-1-1 call.
He added that the American Red Cross is working with them to secure temporary housing.
The Fire Department estimated the loss at $350,000 to the structure and $100,000 to the contents.
The St. Charles Fire Department was assisted by the Geneva, Batavia, Elburn, West Chicago, South Elgin, Bartlett, Fermilab and Fox River Fire Departments. The Elgin, Burlington and Wheaton fire departments provided coverage while St. Charles units were committed to the fire.
Schelstreet said he was grateful for all the assistance. He also singled out for credit St. Charles Community Unit School District 303, which provided two buses as warming facilities for the firefighters; and The Salvation Army, which opened a canteen.