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Clean-up continues: city of Mendota devastated by downtown fire

Authorities said that 20 fire departments helped put out the fire on Thursday, Dec. 29 after it destroyed five buildings and severely damaged another.

MENDOTA, Ill. — The clean-up continues after the city of Mendota, Ill. was devastated from a Thursday, Dec. 29 fire.

The Mendota Fire Dept. was called to the 700 block of Illinois Avenue around 9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29. What began as smoke coming out of an upstairs apartment ended up spreading and destroying five buildings and leaving one with significant smoke and water damage, Mendota Fire Chief Dennis Rutishauser told News 8.

"The building closest to us, which is owned by the city of Mendota; we actually started a demo to get in and stop the fire or else it would've traveled throughout the whole block," Chief Rutishauser said.

Rutishauser added that some first responders were on the scene until the next afternoon on Friday, Dec. 30.

"We were fortunate enough to get it to stop before the restaurant at the far end of the block," Rutishauser said. "It just got into that one, we'll have to see what happens with that building."

David Hollis is the co-owner of D&D Antiques, a store stuck right in the heart of all the affected buildings. He said he received a call that his building was on fire and that he was shocked.

"It had been an antique store for a long time," Hollis said. "Then it was going to be turning into a coffee house, and antiques, and books."

Hollis has owned the Mendota shop for roughly two years. He said there's no word on where he will move the business, but he is looking at his options.

"There's other buildings in town. I did have a couple of booths, and we do a lot of eBay," Hollis said.

One witness, Jerry Prokuski, described the scene after the fire started as he remembered it.

"The vision that I saw here was terrible," Prokuski said. "You heard not only the fire going, but you heard breaking glass. I had to go back home."

Authorities said it will take several weeks to investigate how and where the fire started. 

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