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Repairs start on McHenry fire-damaged apartment building

Published: Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 1:05 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 12:55 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo provided by Shawn McCleavy of Impromptu Photo by Shawn)
Fire crews work the scene of a fire at Route 120 and Riverside Drive in McHenry Sunday.

McHENRY – The owner of the McHenry apartment building damaged by a fire Sunday hopes to have the 33 displaced residents back home “as soon as possible,” he said.

The Riverside Hotel, a three-story, 40-unit apartment building at 3308 W. Elm St., was declared uninhabitable after a fire started in a three-bedroom apartment Sunday morning.

A first-floor office and the Fox Hole Tap & Pizzeria, a restaurant in the building, also suffered significant water damage and were closed Monday.

“[The fire damage] was pretty extensive in one apartment, but the water damage was pretty extensive throughout the building, too,” building owner Dick Buchert said.

He had about 20-plus people working on the building Monday, he said.

The fire is still under investigation, McHenry Township Fire Protection District Chief Tony Huemann said. The occupants of the unit where the fire started were not home at the time of the blaze.

The McHenry County Housing Authority and Red Cross provided assistance to the displaced residents Sunday.

The housing authority provided 26 residents with vouchers to use for a free hotel stay for up to a week, Community Service Director Sue Rose said. They also provided shelter for three pets, a cat, a guinea pig and a sugar glider.

Additional assistance can be provided for up to four weeks, but Rose said it didn’t seem that would be necessary in this case.

The Red Cross also provided 19 families with debit cards totaling about $3,300 so they could buy food, clothing and toiletries, Huemann said.

The Red Cross didn’t return a call for comment Monday.

Riverside Hotel provides pay-by-the-week housing for typically low-income or disabled residents, Rose said. Most of the residents were single men, but there were some children and couples living there.

Rose arrived on the scene about noon Sunday and started the intake process for assistance at Windhill Pancake Parlor, which is located across the street, she said. The restaurant also provided the fire victims with free food and coffee while they waited, something Rose has never seen a business do before in her 19 years at the housing authority.

The intake process, which took about five hours, was later relocated to Corkscrew Pointe, which opened up a backroom for the emergency responders and fire victims, Rose said.

“It’s always stressful for everybody involved, for the emergency responders and certainly for the victims,” she said. “With Windhill and Corkscrew Point being so cordial and generous, it seemed to alleviate a lot of the anxiety. We were able to reassure them that they would give them a place to stay, a roof over their heads.”

Fundraiser to help victims McHENRY – Corkscrew Pointe has planned a fundraiser to help people displaced by Sunday’s fire. John Macrito, owner of Corkscrew Pointe, said he is looking for donations from local businesses to raffle off. He said he also plans to run beer specials during the event and have live music.

After the fire, Corkscrew Pointe served as an intake location for the McHenry County Housing Authority to help victims.

Money will go directly to those affected by the fire, Macrito said.

“I saw many of those people in my place [Sunday],” Macrito said. “A lot of them work locally.”

The fundraiser is scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 26 at Corkscrew Pointe, 1402 N. Riverside Drive, McHenry. For information or to donate, call 815-578-8360. - Joseph Bustos

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