EAST CHICAGO | Inspectors from the Indiana State Fire Marshal's office and the East Chicago Fire Department were working Monday to determine the cause of the fire that destroyed several downtown businesses over the weekend.
Once inspectors are done, the impacted building in the 500 block of West Chicago Avenue will be razed, according to East Chicago Assistant Fire Chief Edmundo Muro.
“Ideally we want it taken care of immediately, but there are protocols that need to be met,” Muro said.
The East Chicago Federation of Teachers Local 511 was among the businesses damaged by the fire. Union leaders are trying to find a temporary location, said John Zarlengo, Local 511 president.
Zarlengo said he's heard the fire began Saturday evening in the recycling business in the back of the building. He said when he surveyed the damage Sunday, it appeared all the union's file and computers were destroyed.
“I'm thankful no one was hurt – that is most important,” Zarlengo said. “We'll survive. We just have to regroup and get it back going again.”
The East Chicago blaze is the latest in a string of fires to hit Northwest Indiana's downtowns.
Last week, a fire destroyed a building housing at least six businesses at 204 Lincolnway in downtown Valparaiso.
In January, a three-story building at the corner of 119th and Sheridan streets in downtown Whiting caught fire, destroying a dress shop and seven apartments.