Woman passes away after Sunday morning apartment fire in Rochelle

A woman passed away following a fire in Rochelle on Sunday morning, Rochelle Police Department Chief Eric Higby said Monday.

Identity of victim yet to be released; autopsy scheduled for Tuesday

ROCHELLE — A woman passed away following a fire in Rochelle on Sunday morning, Rochelle Police Department Chief Eric Higby said Monday. 

At 10:46 a.m. the Rochelle Fire Department was called to a residence located at 503 7th Avenue, apartment two, following a report of smoke. Upon arrival, the woman was found to be deceased. RPD responded to the scene and an investigation is ongoing. The name of the victim has yet to be released. Higby said an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday in Peoria. He said he hopes to release the name Wednesday following the autopsy. 

“It was explained to me that there was an apartment issue involving a water leak that morning,” Higby said. “Somebody checked apartment two at the location and saw smoke and called the fire department. They got on scene and put out the fire and found someone who had passed away. 

RPD has not ruled out foul play in the incident and hopes more details in the investigation will come to light following the autopsy. Higby said RPD has not been made aware of any other individuals that were in the apartment besides the victim.

Rochelle Police and Fire were assisted by the Red Cross, Ogle-Lee Fire Protection District, Ogle County Coroner, the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office, Sterling Police Department, Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigators and the Illinois State Fire Marshal. 

“The Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigators were there to collect evidence and determine whether a crime was committed, similar to why the Illinois State Fire Marshal was there,” Higby said. “The Ogle County Sheriff’s Office was there for manpower and investigating and did things like talk to neighbors.”

The Red Cross assisted with temporary housing for residents of the other units of the apartment. Higby said he didn’t think there was “an extreme amount” of fire damage to the inside of the unit and the damage to the outside of the building was minimal.

“When I arrived on scene and was outside, I could barely tell that there was a fire,” Higby said.

More information will be released by RPD in a press release following the autopsy.

“It’s an unusual case,” Higby said. “Things are going slowly. I was hoping to get the autopsy done Monday.”

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