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Fire consumes business owned by missing St. Charles man
BY JUSTIN KMITCH | Daily Herald Staff

Firefighters and arson investigators are investigating a Sunday night fire near West Chicago that destroyed a cable construction business co-owned by missing St. Charles resident John M. Spira.

 

Raza Siddiqui

John M. Spira

 

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Published: 9/17/2007 12:27 PM | Updated: 9/17/2007 1:32 PM

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Firefighters and arson investigators are investigating a Sunday night fire near West Chicago that destroyed a cable construction business co-owned by missing St. Charles resident John M. Spira.

No one was injured in the blaze that broke out at Universal Cable, 2N255 County Farm Road near West Chicago, but Carol Stream Fire Chief Michael Kanzia estimated the damage at $750,000. The cause has not yet been determined.

"It was a big one, so I imagine it's going to take some time to clear a lot of the debris out of there," Kanzia said this morning.

DuPage County Sheriff spokesman Carol Roegner confirmed today that the office's arson task force is investigating the fire.

"Our investigators are on the scene but have not found reason to label the fire as suspicious," she said.

Family members of Spira, who was last seen at the business the night of Feb. 23, disagree and hope the investigation shines more light on the search for Spira, also a blues musician known as Chicago Johnny.

"I don't know how investigators can take a serious look at this fire and not think it's suspicious," said John Spira's youngest brother Tom.

On Friday afternoon, Tom Spira said, he and other family members hung a 10-by-10-foot banner with John's picture and reward information across the street from the business.

"By Saturday morning, the banner was torn down and just destroyed -- and Sunday the building burns," he said. "That's not a coincidence and no one that's seriously looking deep into this can dismiss this as nothing fishy going on."

When Spira was first reported missing, his sister-in-law, Christina Hoffman of Chicago, said the licensed pilot was going through a divorce with his wife of more than a decade and had an ill mother.

Police initially investigated whether Spira rented an airplane. They quickly found his flight gear but never found any records of him flying.

Tom Spira said Monday that he hopes the fire will prompt resumption of the search for his brother.

"If anything good can come from this fire, we hope it kick-starts a renewed search for John and puts more pressure on the police to solve the case."