Star Lite and Hackett Fires Deemed Suspicious, Not Connected to Church Street Fire

By Jeremy Coumbes on July 24, 2023 at 4:34pm

A pair of early Monday morning fires in Jacksonville have been deemed suspicious in nature, but officials don’t believe they are connected to Sunday morning’s arson on North Church Street.

Crews from the Jacksonville and South Jacksonville Fire Departments responded to a residential fire at approximately 1:30 Monday morning at 1011 Hackett Avenue. The single-story house was fully involved with fire and a total loss.

While winding down operations on Hackett, crews were called to a fire at the former Star Lite Motel located at 1910 West Morton Avenue just after 3:00 am.

Jacksonville Fire Chief Doug Sills said this afternoon that he was not sure if utilities were active at the Hackett Avenue house, however, it was known to be vacant by city officials. He says power was active to the meter box at the Star Lite Motel, however, it was not running to the rest of the facility.

Sills says both incidents have been deemed suspicious albeit, individually. “Of course, the investigation is still ongoing, but at this time in the preliminary investigation, we do not believe the three incidents are interrelated.

Now the 503 North Church we believe is related to what is going on in that block. In working with [Police] Chief Mefford and Doug Thompson over there, I think we’ve got a pretty good plan moving forward.

Bobbie Jo with the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal, I mean he’s showing due diligence. We’re dotting Is and crossing Ts, gathering evidence, sending it to the lab, just beating the bushes and I think sooner or later something will turn on it.”

The fires occurred less than 24 hours after a two-story house located at 503 North Church was involved with fire early Sunday morning. That fire is suspected to be an arson and also remains under investigation.

Sills says at this time, both of the Monday morning fires appear to be possibly caused in connection with squatter activity, but it is too early in the investigation to fully determine the causes.

Crews were on the scene of the Hackett Avenue fire for approximately three and a half hours, and at the Star Lite Motel for approximately four hours due to the overlap in calls and availability of personnel.

Sills says even though these fires are not considered at this time to be related to the recent rash of fires in the vicinity of North Church Street, or that have occurred farther in the northeast end over the past two years, they are all suspicious and anyone with information is asked to leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers of Morgan, Scott, and Cass Counties.

Tips can be made anonymously by calling 217-243-7300, online at, or texting the tip to the word “CRIMES”, that’s the number 274637. The first word of the text tip must be “payout”.