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Blaze adds to mystery
Missing man's West Chicago business destroyed by fire
By Justin Kmitch | Daily Herald Staff

A fire Sunday night destroyed the West Chicago-area business co-owned by missing St. Charles businessman and musician John Spira.

 

Courtesy of Raza Siddiqui

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Published: 9/18/2007 1:06 AM

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Firefighters and arson investigators are probing a 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 just before 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Universal Cable Construction Inc, 2N255 County Farm Road. Carol Stream Fire Chief Michael Kanzia estimated the damage at $750,000 and said a cause had not yet been determined late Monday.

"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," he said.

DuPage County sheriff spokeswoman Carol Roegner confirmed the office's arson task force was investigating.

"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 by business partner David Stubben, disagree and hope the investigation shines more light on the search for Spira, also a blues musician known as Chicago Johnny.

Calls placed to Stubben and the business were not returned Monday.

"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 in February, 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 hoped 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."