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Archive for January 1st, 2012

Surgery For Firefighter Hurt At Westclox Scene

Posted by wlpo on January 1, 2012

The firefighter injured in the fire at Westclox is expected to make a full recovery.

Steve Smith had leg surgery Sunday at Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru after injuring his femur and a tendon in his right leg while trying to attach a fire hose. Recovery could last 8 to 12 weeks with physical therapy after that.

Besides being a La Salle firefighter and EMT, Smith is also a guard at the Sheridan Correctional Center. The Marine spent time in Iraq.

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Firefighter’s Injury Ups The Potential Arson Penalty

Posted by wlpo on January 1, 2012

As soon as La Salle firefighter Steve Smith went down with a broken femur, the future got a little more stressful for two teens accused of arson.

Because Smith was injured while trying to attach a fire hose, class 2 arson charges were elevated to class 1 aggravated arson charges. If convicted of aggravated arson, Steven Gallagher faces 4 to 15 years in prison. If the charged had stayed at a lesser felony, the sentence could’ve been 3 to 7 years in prison.

The 15 year old from Peru facing the arson charge could get sentenced to a juvenile detention facility until he turns 21.

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Westclox Fire Started When Stored Boat Was Set Ablaze

Posted by wlpo on January 1, 2012

Thursday is the next court appearance for the accused co-arsonist Steven Gallagher.

The teen from La Salle will officially be charged with one count of aggravated arson Thursday morning in La Salle County Court. He and a 15-year old boy from Peru are accused of getting into Westclox Saturday night thru an open window. They then allegedly found a boat that was being stored in the building and set it on fire.

La Salle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne says the pair was arrested just a couple hours after the fire started. He says Peru Police used information from an informant to arrest the two teens in the arson.

Gallagher is being held at the La Salle County Jail on 250 thousand dollars bond. The 15-year old is in the county detention home. He’ll be in court Tuesday morning.

Towne wouldn’t say if either teen had a criminal history.

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Despite fire, businesses plan to reopen this week

Posted by wlpo on January 1, 2012

Hours after a New Years Eve blaze destroyed a large portion of the former Westclox building in Peru, the operators of two businesses that called the building home say they’ll be back up this week.

TEST Incorporated performs environmental testing for many local towns.  The company’s headquarters and lab were in the lower level of the front portion of the building that wasn’t on fire but was left with water and smoke damage.

Dave Lourie of TEST says company officials were meeting Sunday to discuss a course of action.  They had already begun looking for a temporary location.

Brides who had ordered their dress through Marien Mae Bridal and Boutique won’t have to look for another dress.  Dress shop owner Amanda Andreoni says friends and family were able to help her remove dresses and information from the shop.  A temporary store has been set up in the basement of Tri-City Frock Shoppe in La Salle and they’ll be back open this week.

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Westclox fire continues to burn while two teens face charges

Posted by wlpo on January 1, 2012

The fire continues to burn at the former Westclox building.  The blaze that was reported minutes before midnight Saturday will likely have to burn itself out according to Assistant Peru Fire Chief Jim Duncan.   People were reporting smoke in the area but firefighters arrived to find it fully involved and out of control.

Duncan says the three buildings make up the property and that it was the middle one that was burning.  He says that building has pretty much collapsed.  He says they knew they weren’t going to send firefighters inside.

Rolls of film, plastic, and some Styrofoam were among the materials burning.  He says there weren’t any chemicals.

Several blocks north and west of the building were evacuated but most of those areas have been reopened.  Several homes on Franklin Street will remain evacuated.

La Salle Firefighter Steve Smith had to undergo surgery after being injured during the set up according to La Salle Fire Chief Andy Bacidore.  He’s in good condition at Illinois Valley Community Hospital.

A 17 year old boy from La Salle and a 15 year old boy from Peru have been charged with aggravated arson.

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focus…focus….focus

Posted by wlpo on January 1, 2012

Illinois State Police say they will focus on the four most common traffic violations during 2012. Those violations are speeding, driving while intoxicated, not wearing seat belts and distracted driving. Illinois State Police officials say it’s no coincidence that traffic fatalities in the state have fallen while the use of seat belts has increased.

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VAC fundraiser

Posted by wlpo on January 1, 2012

The people providing “Meals on Wheels” and transportation to medical appointments are now in the midst of a fundraiser. They’re “Voluntary Action Center” with offices in LaSalle, Ottawa, Streator and Princeton. Voluntary Action Center is in its ninth year serving LaSalle and Putnam Counties and its fifth year in Bureau County. It’s headquarters moved from IVCC in September to a vacant building in Oglesby. VAC estimates serving almost one hundred one thousand “Meals on Wheels”, 14-thousand three hundred senior lunches and about 83-hundred persons to medical appointments. To donate, contact a Voluntary Action Center listed in your phone book or call 758- 39 – 32.

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high wind advisory today

Posted by wlpo on January 1, 2012

High winds influencing the Illinois Valley into this evening. A strong cold front passing through northern Illinois have turned winds to the west-northwest generating sustained winds of 30mph with possible gusts to 50. The National Weather Service says winds should slowly back off during the evening.

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Aggravated arson charges in Westclox fire

Posted by wlpo on January 1, 2012

The Westclox fire, Peru police say, is the result of aggravated arson. Peru police arrested a 17-year old man from LaSalle and a 15 year old from Peru after 2am Sunday while twenty fire departments battled the blaze in the historic brick and window structure that once housed a clock and fuser maker. The 17 year old is in the county jail and the younger one in the detention home. Reporting from a press briefing at Peru City Hall, Jennifer Nagle learned the fire will be allowed to burn itself out as firemen cannot access it. The Westclox facility is considered to be three buildings The backside is what was fully engulfed as La Salle and Peru Firemen arrived just before midnight. The front side of Westclox housing a photographer, bridal shop, TEST and other stores only received smoke damage. According to Peru Fire Department, no chemicals are present in the structure. Wood floors and plastic has and continues to burn. Seventh street north of Westclox is open to all traffic. South of 7th street down to 5th…streets are only open to local residents being allowed back into their homes. Brunner street behind Westclox remains closed. It’s hoped Route 6 will be open by 6pm tonite. A LaSalle firemen underwent surgery for a broken leg at the scene.  Help came as far as Serena to the East and Princeton to the West.

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Aggravated arson charges – Westclox fire

Posted by wlpo on January 1, 2012

The Westclox fire, Peru police say, is the result of aggravated arson. Peru police arrested a 17-year old man from LaSalle and a 15 year old from Peru after 2am Sunday while twenty fire departments battled the blaze in the historic brick and window structure that once housed a clock and fuser maker. The 17 year old is in the county jail and the younger one in the detention home. Reporting from a press briefing at Peru City Hall, Jennifer Nagle learned the fire will be allowed to burn itself out as firemen cannot access it. The Westclox facility is considered to be three buildings The backside is what was fully engulfed as La Salle and Peru Firemen arrived just before midnight. The front side of Westclox housing a photographer, bridal shop, TEST and other stores – incredibly – only received smoke damage. According to Peru Fire Department, no chemicals are present in the structure. Wood floors and plastic has and continues to burn. Seventh street north of Westclox is open to all traffic. South of 7th street down to Westclox…streets are only open to local residents allowed back into their homes. Brunner street behind Westclox remains closed. It’s hoped Route 6 will be open by 6pm tonite.

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