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Cause of a fire at a vacant nursing home undetermined

Rockford Register Star - 12/17/2018

Dec. 16--ROCKFORD -- It's unknown what sparked a fire Saturday night that caused an estimated $120,000 in damages at the former Rockford Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at 1920 N. Main St.

Firefighters were called at 8 p.m. to the vacant structure and battled the fire well into the night.

Firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze via an interior attack but were unsuccessful. An excavator was used to demolish sections of the building to help bring the fire and lingering hot spots under control.

Matthew Flores, a city attorney and neighborhood stabilization officer, was onsite Sunday to assess the damage and to present various courses of action to the city's administration.

"Our job right now is to make sure the site is safe and that no one gets harmed while decisions get made," he said.

A lawsuit, filed last month in Winnebago County Circuit Court, asked North Main Properties LLC to repair or demolish the structure.

Officials said the property is full of mold, attracts criminal activity and poses a public health hazard.

The nursing home closed in 2011 after it was decertified by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services over concerns about the quality of care. It has remained vacant since the shutdown.

A judge in August 2017 ordered the company to pay a $300,000 fine that has gone unpaid.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Chris Green: 815-987-1241; cgreen@rrstar.com; @chrisfgreen

Scott P. Yates: 815-987-1348; syates@rrstar.com; @scottpyates

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(c)2018 Rockford Register Star, Ill.

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