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Chillicothe Times-Bulletin - Chillicothe, IL
  • Fire probe continues, victim in serious condition

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  • A rural Pekin man remains hospitalized with injuries he suffered in a weekend house fire that both area police and fire investigators continue to probe.
    Christopher Lawson, 44, was listed in serious condition at Springfield Memorial Hospital's burn unit Monday, two days after rescuers found him lying in the driveway of his home at 7 Haylake Drive in the Country Club Estates subdivision in rural Pekin.
    He reportedly suffered burns to his hands and face and smoke inhalation in the fire that heavily damaged his split-level home, occupied as well by his wife Darcey and reportedly two children.
    Lawson was the only person injured in the fire that was reported shortly after 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
    Other details about the blaze, including its possible cause, remained sketchy Monday, said Pekin Fire Department and Tazewell County Sheriff's Department officials.
    "Right now we're collecting what information we can" from interviews with family members, acquaintances and neighbors, said Fire Chief Kurt Nelson. "The sheriff's department and the state fire marshal's office is doing that."
    "Hopefully the fog will clear" after that work is finished and investigators also question Lawson, said county sheriff's Capt. Darryl Stoecker.
    Further details, including whether anyone besides Lawson was inside when the fire began, remained unrevealed Monday.
    Concerns over the structural integrity of the home have kept fire investigators out of the house while they wait for the weight of the water used to fight the fire to subside. Once that happens, they can begin to determine more about how and where the fire started.
    "There's not much holding up the first floor" of the split-level structure, Nelson said. "It's too unstable to go into."
    Firefighters spent about 2 1/2 hours battling the blaze, which caused up to an estimated $200,000 in damages. Nelson did not say Monday whether the structure will have to be razed.
    Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin

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