Homeowner victim of fatal rural fire
A badly burned body discovered in the charred ruins of a rural Chillicothe residence was identified as the home’s owner Wednesday, days after apparently unrelated fires twice drew emergency response crews to the same area.
Donald L. Monari, 76, of 22803 N. Berchtold Road died of carbon monoxide intoxication, according to an autopsy performed Wednesday. He was burned over 95 percent of his body and positively identified through medical records and X-rays, said Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll.
Monari was pronounced dead at 11:53 a.m. April 1, about four hours after the blaze at his home was reported to firefighters and police. His body was found in the basement.
The porch and part of the garage were all that remained standing the afternoon of April 1.
Firefighters had been to the same area a few miles northwest of Chillicothe city limits near the Marshall County line on Sunday afternoon for a grass fire that ignited a nearby vacant house.
The owner of the vacant property told a deputy with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office that he had not had a controlled burn on Sunday and did not know who started the blaze. Other neighbors reported seeing billowing smoke later in the night.
A friend of Monari, however, told authorities Monari had been burning garbage just a few feet from his garage and briefly lost control of that fire Monday night, just hours before flames consumed the home.
Capt. Mark Greskoviak of the Sheriff’s Office said the cause of the fatal fire remains under investigation by Peoria County detectives and the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s Office, though no evidence gathered days after the incident indicated foul play.