Firefighters probe cause of blaze at former Libertyville garden center

Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that struck a shuttered plant nursery Monday in Libertyville.

Firefighters were called to the former site of Jamaican Gardens shortly before noon, after multiple greenhouses and a storage building caught fire, according to Libertyville Fire Lt. Dominick Tufano.

“It was pretty extensive,” he said, though the property was vacant and no one was hurt.

The former nursery on the 14500 block of Rockland Road closed in 2010 and has been on the market recently for $3.9 million. The Libertyville Fire Investigation Bureau was working to determine where and how the fire started.

Smoke could be seen billowing over the property from miles away. Tufano said petroleum products used in commercial construction materials were likely to blame for the plumes of thick, black smoke.

Brian Pesmen, a real-estate broker who is marketing the property for Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, said he happened to be driving by the location as fire engines pulled up.

He said the nursery campus, which sits on five acres of a 15-acre site, was mostly vacant other than a few pieces of equipment in storage.

“We don't know what might have been flammable to start the fire, but kids have been known to break in from time to time, so we suspect it was something like that,” he said.

Pesmen said two or three greenhouses and a storage building were destroyed, but a “nicer” two-story brick building was apparently untouched.

He said his firm is marketing the property for redevelopment, and the brick building had drawn the most interest.

“I don't think the fire negatively affects our ability to market it or the interest of any of the parties,” he said. “The greenhouses were going to be torn down anyway.”

More than 15 fire departments assisted Libertyville, including Gurnee, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Newport, North Chicago, Riverwoods and Waukegan.

The blaze shut down Route 176 between Bradley Road and St. Mary's Road, which had reopened by the time fire crews left the scene about 6:30 p.m. No damage estimate was immediately available.

The former manager of the property, whose family operated the business in Libertyville for 40 years, could not be immediately be reached.

Firefighters planned to keep an eye on the site to make sure the fire doesn't start up again.

  Fire damaged multiple buildings Monday at the former Jamaican Gardens nursery on Route 176 in Libertyville. Paul Valade/
Heavy black smoke could be seen for miles Monday as buildings burned on the grounds of the former Jamaican Gardens nursery on Route 176 in Libertyville.
  Fire departments work the scene of a fire Monday at the former Jamaica Gardens on Route 176 in Libertyville. The smoke from the fire, which is just west of the I-94 tollway, could be seen for miles. Route 176 was temporarily closed between Bradley Road and St. MaryÂ’s Road. Paul Valade/
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