Storage Units Destroyed in Suspicious Lafayette Avenue Fire

By Jeremy Coumbes on August 26, 2023 at 12:15pm

No one was injured but several area residents lost significant amounts of property due to a suspicious fire in Jacksonville early Saturday morning.

Jacksonville and South Jacksonville Fire Department crews responded to a call of a structure fire in the storage units complex located at 321 West Lafayette Avenue at 2:36 a.m. Saturday.

According to Jacksonville Fire Department officials, upon arrival, multiple units were involved with fire. The blaze destroyed the contents and large portions of the structure of the southern half of the building.

Officials say the storage unit building did not have power or utilities of any kind running to it. They say they have determined the point of origin of the fire and have deemed it suspicious in nature.

An arson investigator from the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office was on scene this morning and an investigation into the cause is ongoing. No estimate of damages was available as of press time, but officials say there will likely be very significant losses between the damage to the structure and the contents of the individual units.

The fire is the latest in the string of suspicious arson fires that have occurred in the north and eastern areas of town over the last two years, and specifically in that neighborhood over the last year.

In August of last year, a vacant house adjacent to the storage units at 337 West Lafayette was gutted by fire. A pair of houses each burned this year around the corner from the 500 and 600 block of North Church Street.

One of those was the historic Capps house at 606 North Church which burned twice in a matter of weeks. The more than 100-year-old home was at one time owned by members of the Capps woolen mill family and was later a well-known doctor’s office and clinic. It has since been demolished.

Jacksonville Police and Fire Department officials continue to remind residents anywhere in Jacksonville to keep an eye on any vacant or seldom-used properties and report any suspicious activity.

Anyone with information on any of these suspicious fires is urged to call the Jacksonville Police Investigations Unit at 217-479-4630 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers of Morgan, Scott, and Cass Counties at 217-243-7300.