Fire of suspicious origin destroys condemned vacant restaurant

2012-07-23T18:21:00Z 2012-07-23T22:21:04Z Fire of suspicious origin destroys condemned vacant restaurantBy Diane Poulton Times Correspondent
July 23, 2012 6:21 pm  • 

CEDAR LAKE | Firefighters from several area departments battled five hours Monday morning to extinguish a blaze at a recently condemned vacant restaurant.

Cedar Lake Fire Chief Todd Wilkening said the building in the 11000 block of 133rd Avenue, across from Holy Name Catholic Church, was destroyed. There was no damage estimate for the building which had no working utilities, Wilkening said.

A St. John firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion and a home next door to the restaurant had to be evacuated. Its siding melted from the heat of the blaze, officials said.

Wilkening said the fire was suspicious in origin and that his department and the Cedar Lake Police Department are interviewing witnesses and pursuing leads.

The Cedar Lake Fire Department was assisted in fighting the two-alarm fire by St. John, Crown Point, Lowell, Lake Dalecarlia, Schneider and Beecher fire departments. The call came in at 2:31 a.m. Monday and the fire was extinguished by 7:30, Wilkening said.

Town Administrator Ian Nicolini said the Cedar Lake Unsafe Building Committee issued a condemnation order for the building Wednesday.

He said demolition had not yet been scheduled because the town was waiting for confirmation the owner had received a copy of the order.

Public records indicate the owner is Danny L. Hammond, of South Chicago Heights. Nicolini said the property, formerly the site of Jo Jo’s and Liberty restaurants, has been a source of resident complaints for at least a decade.

He said the owner was notified Monday, after the fire had been extinguished, that the property must be immediately secured.

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