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La Salle firefighters still are unsure of the cause of the structure fire that caused First Street to be blocked Friday afternoon, according to fire chief Andy Bacidore.
“We were able to determine it started on the ground floor,” Bacidore said about the two-story building. “There was fire damage downstairs, smoke damage upstairs.”
The building at 728 First St. is owned by Monica Cardenas of Chicago, Bacidore said. The downstairs apartment had been vacant, and the upstairs apartment was held but not occupied at the time by Lynn Van Norman of Peoria, who works for VITAS Hospice in La Salle and often stayed at the apartment with her Saint Bernard, “Gabe,” when the weather was bad.
Van Norman said she had rented the apartment for more than five years and was sad to see it go, but happy she and Gabe were safe.
“The true blessing is that no one was hurt,” Van Norman said. “I will miss my stuff … but in the grand scheme of things, it was just stuff.”
Peru, Oglesby and Utica firefighters assisted. There were no injuries, Bacidore said.