CHICAGO (CBS) — It might be six months before village officials and police in south suburban Steger will be able to go back to the village hall, which was heavily damaged by fire this week.

Village Mayor Ken Peterson said it’s still unclear whether a lightning strike is to blame for a power surge that started the fire during Monday night’s storms. He said the leading theory is a power surge caused a surge protector or a copy machine to catch fire.

“The fire kind of ran up the wall and then ran down the hallway, but the doors were closed in all the offices, and at each end of the hallway. So we believe what happened is the fire ran out of oxygen, kind of started smoldering, but then when they opened the doors to find out what was going on, they relit the fire,” he said.

Whatever the cause, the blaze caused at least $750,000 in damage.

“I’m being told that it’s going to take at least six months to get back into the building,” he said.

Peterson said the village hall was headquarters not only for local government officials, but for the police department too. Meantime, village officials and police have set up at temporary locations.

Jail cells were virtually undamaged, but overnight guests of the Steger Police Department are being housed for now in the lockup in South Chicago Heights, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

“It definitely is a difficult time. It’s always hard to operate out of temporary offices,” Peterson said. “But we’ll get through it.”


Watch & Listen LIVE