A fire spread throughout the attic and roof area at John Kuester Manor, 310 Osage Street in Wauconda, and left all residents of the 25-unit apartment building displaced Tuesday afternoon. | Photo: Tyler Tobolt / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

County officials say a fire that left all residents of a 25-unit apartment building for senior citizens displaced in Wauconda was caused by a contractor working on the building.

The Wauconda Fire District and Wauconda Police Department responded around 3:12 p.m. Tuesday to the John Kuester Manor, 310 Osage Street in Wauconda, for a report of a smell of smoke.

Several additional 911 calls were made and one of them reported heavy smoke billowing from the roof of the 25-unit senior apartment building, which is operated by the Lake County Housing Authority.

The incident was upgraded to a structure fire response and fire crews arrived on the scene in less than three minutes, according to Wauconda Fire District Battalion Chief Jason Daun.

A fire spread throughout the attic and roof area at John Kuester Manor, 310 Osage Street in Wauconda, and left all residents of the 25-unit apartment building displaced Tuesday afternoon. | Photo Submitted to Lake and McHenry County Scanner

They found heavy smoke and fire coming from the roof and attic area of the three-story section of the building.

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The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) was activated to the box alarm level for additional resources to the scene.

Daun said firefighters and police officers immediately began evacuating the building by going door-to-door.

Firefighters simultaneously deployed hose lines to extinguish the fire.

The initial fire company made their way to an attic scuttle and advanced a hose line to the fire, Daun said.

A fire spread throughout the attic and roof area at John Kuester Manor, 310 Osage Street in Wauconda, and left all residents of the 25-unit apartment building displaced Tuesday afternoon. | Photo: Joe Shuman/J. Shuman Photography (2024)

The fire attack crews working in the attic were able to extinguish the majority of the fire.

Ladder trucks were positioned to protect the roof and other areas of the building. Extensive overhaul operations were conducted.

The Lake Zurich, Fox Lake, Long Grove, Nunda, Grayslake, Countryside, Mundelein, Barrington, McHenry and Palatine fire departments responded to the scene along with the Salvation Army.

The Barrington-Countryside, Fox River Grove, Woodstock, Spring Grove and Mundelein fire departments covered Wauconda fire stations.

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Daun said the Wauconda Park District and Wauconda Township provided a bus to shelter residents during the incident.

A fire spread throughout the attic and roof area at John Kuester Manor, 310 Osage Street in Wauconda, and left all residents of the 25-unit apartment building displaced Tuesday afternoon. | Photo: Tyler Tobolt / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

The Wauconda Grade School was opened by school officials to keep the residents warm and dry.

The bulk of the fire was in the attic but smoke and water damage were reported throughout the building.

The Lake County Housing Authority and American Red Cross were working with residents to relocate them to temporary housing.

All 25 units were deemed uninhabitable, Daun said. A damage estimate was not available.

Firefighters and police officers assisted residents with gathering essential items and checking on pets after the fire was extinguished.

A fire spread throughout the attic and roof area at John Kuester Manor, 310 Osage Street in Wauconda, and left all residents of the 25-unit apartment building displaced Tuesday afternoon. | Photo: Joe Shuman/J. Shuman Photography (2024)

There were no injuries and all living areas are protected by fire sprinklers and smoke detectors.

The Lake County Housing Authority said in a statement following the incident that an investigation was conducted that determined the fire to be accidental in nature.

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The fire originated from a contracted vendor installing equipment on the premises.

The housing authority thanked the fire departments for responding and said their efforts were “commendable” and they “extended our heartfelt gratitude for their swift action.”

“Rest assured, the Lake County Housing Authority is dedicated to rehousing any displaced tenants and restoring the affected property as swiftly as possible,” the agency said.