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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Police are suspicious of Lipton Tea building fire

Streator police chief Jeffrey Anderson he considers that the Saturday night fire that destroyed the historic Lipton Tea building may be connected to 16 suspicious fires in Streator since May 2011.

“They all seem to be the same M.O.,” he told the Lasalle NewsTribune . “We have questioned people but right now we have no definite leads.”

The fire started on the second and third floors on the east side of the four-story building, Streator Fire Chief Tom Risley said. Those two floors were being used for storage of plumbing supplies, pipes, bathtubs and “things of that nature,” Risley said.

The remainder of the building was largely empty. A sprinkler system in the building was disabled 20 years ago, Risley said.

One firefighter suffered a shoulder injury while fighting the fire. He was treated at a local hospital and released. That injury could mean that someone charged with setting the fire could face a more serious charge of aggravated arson.

“This building’s been here for all my life, one of the few period buildings left,” Anderson said. “It was beautiful. It looks better than a tin building.”

Ottawa Capt. Buck Manley said firefighters could be at the scene for days to make sure the fire is out.

The Lipton Tea building once was considered for the National Register of Historic Places. The company left Streator in 1964, and the warehouse most recently stored plumbing and heating equipment.