War refugee family OK after fire
By Bill Bird firstname.lastname@example.org April 7, 2011 9:14PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
A family of five that settled in Naperville after a terrifying and narrow escape from the genocide in their native Kosovo might need less help than initially believed, following a fire Thursday night that did more than $70,000 damage to their home.
Family friend Kimberlie Richter said Ruzhdi and Nafije Sadiku apparently have sufficient homeowners’ insurance and will be able to restore their blue and white, two-story house at 589 Beaconsfield Ave., in the far south-central part of the city.
Richter and her husband, Bret, sponsored the Sadikus and their three children in June 1999, after the culturally Muslim family fled Kosovo and the “ethnic cleansing” being orchestrated there by Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
The Sadikus’ insurance provider “seems to be coming through” for the family, “so I’m very excited about that,” Kimberlie Richter said late Friday afternoon. Repair work should be completed in about two months, she said.
Naperville Fire Department officials said the Sadikus were burning wood in their living room fireplace about 8:27 p.m. Thursday when they noticed smoke wafting at the ceiling level. Family members called 911 before escaping to safety.
Deputy Fire Chief Rick Sander said 26 firefighters and 10 vehicles and pieces of apparatus began arriving about 8:33 p.m. at the home in the Cedar Glen neighborhood.
Fire Capt. Kevin Lyne confirmed Thursday night at the scene the flames “extended outside the firebox” and into the western wall, near the living room and the attached garage.
Firefighters cut holes in the middle of the wall and above the garage near the chimney, “opening up the walls and looking for hidden fire,” Lyne said. Flames were discovered inside the wall directly behind the fireplace, he said.
Members of one fire crew at one point hoisted their truck’s aerial ladder to a window above the garage. Other firefighters climbed an extension ladder they raised from the ground outside the garage and up to another window.
Sander, in a prepared statement, said Friday it took less than 15 minutes to bring the blaze under control. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians, he said.
Firefighters remained at the scene until about 9:30 p.m., performing salvage and cleanup operations. Physical damage to the house appeared confined to the western wall, although the building also sustained smoke damage.
Sander added the Sadikus stayed elsewhere Thursday night but were expected to return home over the weekend.
The Richters sponsored the Sadikus through World Relief, a humanitarian agency based in Wheaton. The Sadikus arrived from Macedonia with then-teenage daughters Mimoza and Leonore and 3-year-old son Albion, now a freshman at Neuqua Valley High School.
Kimberlie Richter said the family’s ethnicity made them targets of the Milosevic regime.
When soldiers descended on the Sadikus’ home in Kosovo, “they said they were going to kill the boy,” Richter said, referring to Albion. Nafije Sadiku “begged for her son’s life for 45 minutes,” she said.
The soldiers at last spared Albion and forced the family off their property “before blowing up their house,” Richter said. The Sadikus lived as refugees until World Relief helped bring them to Naperville.
Ruzhdi Sadiku works at Edward Hospital in Naperville. Richter said all members of the family are now U.S. citizens except Nafije Sadiku, who is still working to master the English language.
The Richters and other west suburban residents helped dozens of Kosovar refugee families settle in the Naperville-Joliet region following the NATO response to Serb attacks on ethnic Albanians.