Northern Illinois University

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News Release

Contact: Joe King, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-4299

October 26, 2009

NIU working to help students displaced by fire

DeKalb, Ill. — The NIU Division of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management continued efforts Monday to assist students displaced by a fire in a DeKalb apartment complex last Friday.

Of the approximately two dozen students affected by the fire late Friday, Oct. 23, eight have taken up the university on its offer to provide temporary quarter.

“In these circumstances we will put those students up for about a week at no charge while they get their lives back in order,” said Michael Stang, executive director of Housing and Dining. “After that, if they would like to remain with us we will ask them to sign contracts.”

Stang’s office began working with the displaced students almost as soon as the flames were extinguished, transporting them to the Stevenson Towers residence hall where they were interviewed both by university representatives and a four-person emergency response team from the DeKalb County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The university ensured that those students had a place to spend the night, while the Red Cross gathered information and issued “comfort kits” consisting of toiletries and other essentials.

“We were able to work hand-in-glove with the university to help those students,” said Michelle Emmett, executive director of the local Red Cross Chapter. “Everything went smoothly.”

DeKalb Fire Chief Bruce Harrison shared Emmett’s assessment of the response. “The Red Cross and NIU moved in right away and made sure those students weren’t left shivering on the curb for hours. They were well taken care of from the start,” he said.

The fire in the Old Orchard apartments, 1001 W. Lincoln Highway, started in the attic above a vacant apartment, Harrison said. The blaze took about 45 minutes to control, causing substantial damage to about four apartments. No one was injured in the fire, but damages to the building were estimated at $250,000. The cause of the fire remained under investigation Monday.

Fire fighters from DeKalb Sycamore, Cortland, Waterman, Hinckley, Genoa-Kingston Engine, Malta and Maple Park responded to the blaze, said Harrison, adding that investigators from his department and the property owner’s insurance company continued to investigate the cause of the fire.

Officials speculate that some of the displaced students could be able to return to their apartments this week while others might have to make long-term arrangements. Many in the latter group already reported that they were working with their landlord, Mason Properties, to find other housing options in DeKalb.

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