Cause of old grade school fire unknown

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Picture by RaeAnn DeMoss

RANKIN, Ill. (WCIA) — The cause of a fire that destroyed the remains of an old grade school is unlikely to be determined.

JC Fultz, the Public Information Officer for the Illinois State Fire Marshal, said investigators have not determined a cause for the June 15 fire, adding they are unlikely to in the future due to the extent of the damage. Investigators are expected to continue searching for a cause. Fultz did not have an exact estimate as to how long the investigation will remain open.

The grade school had been vacant for years, and was already partially demolished at the time of the fire. For years, the school had been considered an eyesore and dangerous for those who lived near it.

In February, the Vermilion County Public Health Department told the owner of the building, Herbert Polchow, to tear down the building. When he didn’t, they took legal action.

Doug Toole, the administrator of the public health department, said he has sent Polchow a letter informing him he now has until the end of July to clean up the remains.

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