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Man arrested on arson charges after fire destroys Morris building

No one injured in Sunday morning blaze

A building at 1353 East St. in Morris was destroyed in a fire Sunday morning.
A building at 1353 East St. in Morris was destroyed in a fire Sunday morning.

MORRIS – A fire that destroyed a building in the 1300 block of East Street on Sunday morning resulted in an arson arrest.

Timothy Cheskie, 43, of Morris was arrested and charged with arson, a Class 2 felony, Sunday morning after an investigation into the fire that destroyed the building owned by ProTack LLC, located at 1353 East Street.

The Morris Fire and Protection District was called to the scene about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, Morris Fire Chief Tracy Steffes said.

"By the time we got there, the entire building was engulfed in flames and the roof had already collapsed," Steffes said. "At that point, it turned into a defensive fire, meaning that we wanted to keep it from spreading to other buildings. It was unsafe to send anyone into the building."

ProTack is a company that sprays roadways with a coating after the road is ground up and before asphalt is laid.

"Luckily, there were no people in the building and no one was injured," Steffes said. "The company sometimes does have people coming and going at night because there are paving jobs that take place at night due to traffic. With the recent rains we have had, there were no paving jobs going on, so that worked in our favor."

Steffes said fire departments from Coal City, Channahon, Minooka, Troy, Gardner, Seneca and Bristol-Kendall, along with Morris Police Department, MABAS Division 15 and the Illinois State Fire Marshal, also arrived on the scene.

"The Morris police, Division 15 and the fire marshal did a great job of working with some good tips and getting good evidence," Steffes said. "Arson is not an easy crime to prove."

Sgt. Anthony Puleo was the first on the scene for the Morris Police Department.

"Sgt. Puleo saw someone in the vicinity," Morris Police Chief John Severson said. "We took him in for questioning, and some of his statements were enough for us to charge him with arson."

Steffes estimated that the fire caused more than $1 million in damages.

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