Fires set during weekend on old JDC campusJacksonville Journal-Courier, Ill. — Rochelle Eiselt Jacksonville Journal-Courier, Ill.
June 30-- Jun. 30--Several suspicious fires set during the weekend on the former Jacksonville Developmental Center grounds at 1201 S. Main St. have Jacksonville Fire Department crews on alert.
"We're watching that area pretty closely," Jacksonville fire Chief Doug Sills said.
Several Dumpsters, some pallets and fallen leaves next to buildings were set on fire, Sills said.
Right now all of the fires are under investigation and considered to be suspicious in nature, he said.
The call for the first fire came in around 6:07 a.m. Friday, when Jacksonville fire crews responded to an area near the north door to JDC's Bushnell Building beside Community Park.
Blazes had been set in Dumpsters in four separate areas around the building, Sills said.
"Four different fires were going," he said.
The building, a former residential unit for JDC, was boarded up and leaves piled up at the entrance also were burning, fire Lt. Michael Hopper said.
The burning leaves caused plywood covering the glass door to catch on fire, he said.
Fire crews extinguished the blazes and the building itself did not sustain damage. Property damage is estimated around $200 because of damage to the plywood sheeting used to board up the doors.
A call at 10:54 p.m. Saturday saw Jacksonville fire crews returning to the JDC grounds, this time to the Bowen Building, which once housed the JDC day program.
Crews arrived to find a small fire in a loading dock in the building's northeast parking lot, according to a fire department report that noted the blaze appeared to be fueled by a broken-up pallet and weeds.
The fire was actively burning when they got there but it hadn't extended to any portion of the building, Sills said.
It took crews about 30 minutes to extinguish the blaze.
Both the Friday and Saturday fires happened right down the street from one another in close proximity, Sills said.
As a result of the fires, which remain under investigation, the campus has been blocked off and the fire department and the Springfield-based property management company that oversees the JDC campus are watching the area, Sills said.
The fires on the JDC campus come on the heels of several other suspicious fires in Jacksonville, including blazes at 1241 Allen Ave., 710 E. Douglas Ave. and 1333 E. Wolcott St. Those fires also remain under investigation, Sills said.
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