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Hearts go out to Prophetstown over ruinous fire

As Prophetstown residents adjust to life after eight downtown buildings were destroyed by fire, the hearts of many area residents go out to them. Area firefighters deserve praise for their effective response.

Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

The devastating business district fire Monday in Prophetstown, while a terrible disaster, is not without a bright spot or two.

No one was killed, even though the blaze struck overnight, and some upstairs apartments were occupied.

No injuries were reported, either.

Mutual aid agreements with neighboring fire departments were instrumental in successfully limiting the massive fire’s spread, after the initial response by Prophetstown firefighters. An estimated two dozen departments sent help.

Investigators with the Illinois State Police made two arrests in connection with the blaze. In a news release, authorities said two boys, brothers ages 16 and 12 who are from out of the area but staying in town for the summer, were taken into custody Tuesday. Police said the boys set fire to a recycling bin that then spread to the eight buildings.

Businesses lost in the blaze include a restaurant, variety store, salon, and monogram shop.

Those losses are hard for the community to bear.

Even harder to bear is the loss of the town’s historical society. Housed in one of the old buildings, the society took pride in preserving the city’s history. It is sad that a fire of historic proportions destroyed so many relics from Prophetstown’s history.

Mayor Steve Swanson lamented the fire’s dire impact on Prophetstown’s historic business district.

Swanson spoke of the city’s award-winning Main Street program and how local residents used it as a tool to improve the community.

Here’s hoping that Prophetstown residents can harness the same can-do attitude to bounce back from the Great Fire of 2013.

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