Moline Fire Department Rescue Tenants from Arson Fire at Timber Knoll Apartment, One Under Arrest


An arrest has been made following a fire at the Timber Knoll Apartment complex located in the 3700 Block of 53rd Street in Moline. 911 received a call at approximately 10:12 AM on Wednesday regarding the fire at the apartment building. Witnesses at the scene reported seeing heavy black smoke coming from the second floor and roof of the building. Firefighters reported seeing several residents on their balcony needing rescue as firefighters arrived. Asplundh Tree Service Workers who’d been in the area had begun to pitch in using their ladders to help victims down from their balconies. After immediately jumping in to help rescue tenants, the Moline Fire Department began battling the blaze, a task made difficult by the fact that the stairs of the apartment building were where the fire was mostly set. Multiple fire companies were on scene for approximately 4 hours completing salvage and overhaul and searching for hidden pockets of fire to extinguish. The initial Moline Fire response included 17 on-duty personnel occupying 2 Engine Companies, 1 Truck Company, 2 Ambulances and an Incident Commander along with two Chief Officers. In the end, two building residents were taken to the hospital to treat smoke inhalation, several others were treated at the scene and released.

Soon after the fire was put down, through the combined efforts of several local fire departments, Moline Police investigators began their investigation. That led to the arrest of Frederick J. McKenzie who witnesses claimed to have seen carrying a gas can into the apartment building just before the fire started. McKenzie, a former resident of the Timber Knoll Apartment Complex, is alleged to have poured gasoline in the hallways and stairs of the building and then setting the fire. McKenzie was eventually located and arrested in Davenport, Iowa, thanks to the aid of Davenport Police and the Iowa State Police working with Moline Investigators. McKenzie has been arrested and charged with Aggravated Arson, a Class X Felony and Residential Arson, a Class 1 Felony. The Rock Island County State’s Attorney filed charges and a warrant was issued for his arrest. McKenzie is being held on $100,000 bond in the Scott County, Iowa jail awaiting extradition to Rock Island County.

In a statement to the media, a Moline Police Department spokesman stated: “Witnesses, residents, maintenance and nearby workers greatly contributed to the outcome in this incident. Several citizens jumped in to help those trapped in the apartment complex before first responders arrived on scene. Others provided helpful information or eye witness information that aided police detectives and the fire marshal which eventually led to an arrest. The cooperation of people helping people, saved lives and contributed to a quick resolution to this criminal activity. Although this was a scary situation, the community worked together and did whatever they could to help.”

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