Bob VanHee and Joe Link stood in the hallway of the second floor of the River Ridge Apartments building Jan. 17.

One day short of a month after a fire at the Redwood Falls apartment building resulted in the displacement of 24 residents, both agreed progress is being made toward the day when the 24-unit apartment complex can be open again.

According to VanHee, who serves as site manager for River Ridge, the hope is to have the majority, if not all, of the work done by March 1.

For Link, who is helping to coordinate the work being done by ServiceMaster® to clean the building prior to final restoration, the plan is to have that work completed soon.

“We’re hoping to be done with our work by Feb. 1,” said Link.

VanHee said he has been learning a lot about the process along the way, adding that a fire does a lot more damage than one could ever imagine. Many of the units, hallways and common areas in the building have all experienced at least some smoke damage.

“Sheetrock is very porous,” said Link.

The entire unit where the fire started has been gutted and work to finish the clean-up in that space continues, with other units also being cleaned as the local ServiceMaster® team gains access to them.

Following an investigation, the fire at River Ridge was ruled accidental, said VanHee. 

While having a fire is never a good thing, VanHee did say he sees the outcome of it will make the apartment building even better, as the entire facility will see code updates.

“The building is going to be even better than it was,” said VanHee.

Built in 1981, River Ridge Apartments is a rental property owned by Van Binsbergen & Associates, LLC in Montevideo, which owns a number of rental properties in the region.

VanHee added that is also a good thing, as that allowed a number of those residents who were displaced the opportunity to find another place to stay temporarily while restoration is taking place.

VanHee said the restorative work is being done by local people, which he said is very helpful because it means they are accessible and can be on site quickly.

VanHee also expressed his appreciation to everyone locally who assisted at the scene of the Dec. 18 fire from emergency personnel, including the Redwood Falls Police Department and Redwood Falls Fire Department, as well as the Salvation Army, Ruby’s Pantry and Red Cross.

VanHee also pointed out the help provided by Thielen Bus Lines as it helped transport those who were displaced.

He said the staff at Redwood Lodge have been great, as have those from ServiceMaster®.

The quilting club from Gloria Dei church also provided a quilt for each of the residents.

What seems like a little gesture can become a pretty big deal, added VanHee.

Things could have been worse, said VanHee, adding precast concrete walls, block and brick construction helped to limit damage.

The cleaning process provided by the company with the yellow vans and trucks is comprehensive, and Link said they have been on the scene for a couple of weeks addressing the water, fire and smoke damage in the building.

“We will go through every room to make sure they are cleaned,” said Link.

The work at River Ridge Apartments continues, and VanHee said he believes things are going well at this point in the process.