8011 Edgewater Road, North Riverside

Tenants of a North Riverside apartment building rendered uninhabitable by a fire that started just before midnight on Oct. 13 can get relocation assistance through the village of North Riverside, which has set up a temporary emergency office in the community room of the police department at 2359 Desplaines Ave.

Mayor Joseph Mengoni said representatives from the Red Cross and BEDS Plus would be onsite through the evening on Oct. 14 in the community room to help residents obtain assistance.

“There are residents there right now who will be processed by the Red Cross,” said Mengoni in a phone interview with the Landmark at about 6 p.m. on Oct. 14.

In addition to helping those affected by the fire find emergency shelter, the Red Cross is also providing toiletries and food.

“Some residents lost everything,” said Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti.

Residents of the building can also register for emergency assistance by calling the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS.

BEDS Plus, the LaGrange-based nonprofit serving homeless individuals, has access to emergency housing on a longer-term basis than the Red Cross. Anyone displaced by the fire who needs assistance can set up an appointment through the weekend by calling JoAnne at BEDS Plus at 708-354-0858.

According to Scarpiniti, it may be a long time before anyone will be allowed to inhabit the apartment building at 8011 Edgewater Road. North Riverside police on the afternoon of Oct. 14 served the building’s management company with a notice of condemnation, prohibiting occupancy.

The village has padlocked the building’s entrances and will fence off the courtyard before turning the property back over to the management company, said Mengoni.

North Riverside’s building inspector is expected to deliver a detailed report early next week, but Scarpiniti said the inspector has already noted “serious concerns” over the building’s structural integrity.

“There’s a lot of concern over the load of the structure,” said Scarpiniti, adding that some of the bricks have started to pull away from the interior courtyard wall of the west wing, where fire damage was concentrated.

There also remain concerns about why smoke from the fire in the west wing so quickly traveled throughout the entire building, causing a great deal of smoke damage in areas of the building unaffected by the fire itself.

In addition, the building inspector expressed concern about the building’s electrical system as well as heating-related issues. Nicor was not able to restore partial gas service because of the way it is delivered to the building, through a single meter.

Power and water service have also been shut off to the property.

“I have a feeling that building will not be ready for occupancy for some time,” Scarpiniti said.

Local officials were not able to contact the building’s management company, Property Rental Inc., until late morning on Oct. 14 despite attempts to do so overnight. Scarpiniti said she and Riverside Public Safety Director Matthew Buckley personally paid a visit to the president of Property Rental Inc., Donna DiBrito, at the company’s office at 24 East Ave. in Riverside.

DiBrito was able to provide them with a list of residential tenants as well as the names, but no contact information, for two ground-floor commercial tenants, Scarpiniti said. The village still is unsure exactly how many people lived in the building.

Fire investigators reportedly have traced the origin of the fire to a kitchen area in one of the west wing’s top-floor units, but they have not yet been able to identify a particular cause.