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Pontiac fire cause unknown; residents displaced

PONTIAC (MCT) — Officials were still trying Monday to determine what caused a fire Friday in a Pontiac apartment building.

Interim Fire Chief Scott Runyon said that the Illinois state fire marshal’s office was on the scene at 718 W. Washington St. on Friday afternoon and returned Monday, but have not yet announced a cause.

“At this point, it is not leading to anything suspicious,” Runyon said.

Residents of the eight-unit building said they first started smelling smoke about 10:30 a.m. Friday. Witnesses then reported smoke coming from the top floor of the northwest corner of the building.

Flames was visible through the roof when the Pontiac Fire Department arrived.

Firefighters from Cullom, Odell, Fairbury, Chenoa, Dwight, Flanagan, Cornell and Saunemin were called in to assist.

Firefighters were on the scene for about four hours and were called back several times Friday to extinguish hot spots.

A final damage estimate is not available, but Runyon said the top floor of the two-story building, estimated at about 100 years old, was destroyed. The bottom portion received heavy smoke and water damage and was not likely to be livable.

There were no working smoke detectors in the building, residents said.

“It would be the responsibility of the building owner to install smoke detectors,” Runyon said.

According to Livingston County property records, the owner of the building is William Jedlink of Dwight. A phone number for Jedlink was not available.

About 15 residents were living in four units in the building, and the American Red Cross of the Heartland is continuing to help the victims, said Red Cross board member and Pontiac resident Scott McCoy. The Red Cross provided the families vouchers for three nights at a Pontiac hotel and for food and provided information on places to rent in Pontiac.

“We are doing everything we can to help,” McCoy said. “It is a very unfortunate situation.”

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