ROCKFORD (WIFR) – A late night fire at a Rockford Strip Mall is being called suspicious.
It happened around 10:30 at a business on Marchesano Drive, coincidentally the same area RFD is proposing to move their South main Street Fire Station on the City’s south west side. When crews got to the scene, they found a sofa in flames inside one of the empty storefronts. The back door was kicked in and glass as broken on the front door. No one was injured.
Investigators aren’t’ calling this arson just yet, however crews are battling more intentional fires this year.
Rubble and burned shoes are all that’s left of what was supposed to be a new shoe store on Marchesano Drive in Rockford. Fire ripped through a part of the strip mall, shattering the owner’s dream of opening his business in a few weeks.
Investigators aren’t ruling Tuesday night’s fire as arson just yet, but if they do, it’ll be the 90th case of arson so far this year.
“It’s spread out over the entire city, north, south, east, west, everywhere.”
Rockford fire crews have responded to 26 ore arson fires this year, compared to last.
“There have been numerous occasions where individuals were attributed to setting numerous fires.
Fire prevention Chief Matt Knott says most fires happened in the summer, in vacant homes, buildings, and dumpsters. He says he’s not sure why there’s an increase this year, however he believe some of them can be prevented.
“It’s important for neighbors to be engaged in their community and look out for their property and their neighbor’s property to make sure that if there is something suspicious to make sure it’s reported.”
Chief Knott says the fire department is still moving forward with plans to move their current fire station on South Main Street to the property on Marchesano.
Investigators have solved about 30% of the arson cases that have happened across the city. We’re told many of the crimes are committed by repeat offenders.