Officials say arson is the probable cause of a fire which seriously damaged a Leaf River bar last weekend.
Leaf River Fire Chief Dennis Kuntzelman said firefighters found that two separate fires were set inside the Bone Yard Saloon, 400 E. Third St. (Ill. 72), in the early morning hours of Oct. 6.
"It's being investigated as an arson," Kuntzelman said.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal's office and the Ogle County Sheriff's Department are assisting with the investigation.
"We do believe someone deliberately set it on fire," said Sheriff Michael Harn.
Firefighters were called to the scene just after 4 a.m., Kuntzelman said, and found flames showing at the northwest corner and on the east side of the metal building.
He said the building, which is owned by Karen Morehead, Leaf River, sustained heat and smoke damage inside.
"Because it's a metal building, the heat inside became very intense," Kuntzelman said.
Inside the building, he said investigators found combustible materials in places they should not have been.
Harn said the first deputy who arrived on the scene found the door to the bar open.
Bar operator Rick Bland told investigators that he had locked the building when he left after the business closed at 1 a.m., Harn said.
The bar had been open for about four months.
Kuntzelman said he could not comment on whether or not accelerants were used to start the fire.
"That's part of the ongoing investigation," he said.
Byron and Winn-Bur-Sew Fire Departments assisted at the scene.
Harn said he does not believe the fire is connected to a suspicious fire which destroyed a garage a few blocks away earlier this year.
A fire May 28 destroyed an unattached garage belonging to Rodney and Shirley Poggioli at 408 Garfield St.
The garage sat near the alley behind the house and was used to store lawn furniture and tools.