PROPHETSTOWN – Investigators say two boys set fire to a recycling bin behind a Prophetstown restaurant early Monday, sparking the blaze that destroyed eight buildings, damaged two others and left more than half a dozen people homeless.
A joint investigation led to the arrest of the 16- and 12-year old brothers, both taken to the juvenile detention facility in Galesburg at 12:15 this morning, Illinois State Police said in a news release.
The boys are from out of state and were staying with their father for the summer, ISP Master Sgt. Chris Endress said.
The boys set fire to the recycling bin behind Cindy Jean's Restaurant; no accelerant was used, Endress said.
Investigators met with the Whiteside County state's attorney today to discuss formal charges, Endress said. There will be a hearing Wednesday morning in the Sterling branch of Whiteside County Court.
No further details were released.
The fire erupted around 2:30 a.m. in the 300 block of Washington Street, which is the town's main street and the heart of its historic downtown business district.
The buildings were about 150 years old, and housed business such as D's Variety Store, Twisted Scissors salon, Kim's Monograms and the town's Historical Society.
The joint investigation included the State Police, Prophetstown Police, the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Whiteside County Sheriff's Office.