Rankin Grade School fire

Rankin resident Lisa Eighner Breymeyer captured this photo of Rankin’s old grade school burning. The building was destroyed by the fire.

RANKIN — An arson investigator for the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office has been unable to determine what caused a dilapidated grade school building in Rankin to catch fire on June 15, an agency spokesman said Monday.

Arson investigator Shane Arndt visited the fire scene last week, looking for clues as to what caused the early-morning blaze that destroyed the three-story brick building in the 200 block of North Johnson Street.

However, state fire marshal’s office spokesman JC Fultz said Monday that, according to Arndt, the damage was so extensive that no cause could be determined — and one may never will be.

The building, owned by Rankin resident Herbert Polchow, was reduced to rubble following the fire. The Vermilion County Public Health Department’s administrator, Doug Toole, said last week that he planned to give Polchow a deadline to clean up the debris, or instead be taken to court.

For years, the health department had been trying to address the building’s deteriorating condition through the court system, and Polchow was fined last December for failing to comply with a judge’s order to have the building demolished.