Cause of Hackney's Lake Zurich fire still unknown

 
 
Updated 9/10/2018 7:14 PM
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  • A suburban dining institution for nearly five decades was left in ruins after an overnight fire Sunday gutted the former Hackney's restaurant in Lake Zurich.

    A suburban dining institution for nearly five decades was left in ruins after an overnight fire Sunday gutted the former Hackney's restaurant in Lake Zurich. Courtesy of Lake Zurich Fire Department

  • Little remains of the former Hackney's restaurant in Lake Zurich after an overnight fire Sunday gutted the shuttered eatery.

    Little remains of the former Hackney's restaurant in Lake Zurich after an overnight fire Sunday gutted the shuttered eatery. Courtesy of Lake Zurich Fire Department

  • Charred rubble is all that remains of the former Hackney's restaurant in Lake Zurich after an overnight fire Sunday.

    Charred rubble is all that remains of the former Hackney's restaurant in Lake Zurich after an overnight fire Sunday. Courtesy of Lake Zurich Fire Department

Investigators have yet to determine a cause for the massive fire that reduced the former Hackney's restaurant to charred rubble.

Fire Chief John Malcolm said Monday that officials had no new information to report, including whether arson might have been a cause.

Lake Zurich Fire Captain and Shift Cmdr. Jeff Radtke said the investigation could go on for days.

"It's very possible, because of the damage to the building, that we might not come up with a true answer," Radtke said.

By the time firefighters arrived around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, flames were shooting out of the roof. Before the fire was out, around 30 nearby fire departments were called to help.

Malcolm said the building was vacant, so firefighters focused on containing the fire. Strong winds made that task difficult as burning embers were sent flying.

"There was minor damage to the awning of Fritzl's," Malcolm said, referring to the restaurant across Route 12 from the Hackney's site. "Embers got to that and burned some holes through."

Malcolm said he was grateful high-quality fire hydrants were on the site, and that the fire started in the middle of the night and not in the middle of the day.

"We had to shut down Rand Road in both directions," he said. "If it had been rush hour, it would have been a different story."

It took more than two hours to bring the fire under control, and firefighters were still on the scene throughout Sunday morning spraying down hot spots. Malcolm said the village's public works department used heavy machinery to rip open sections of the smoldering building so fire crews could spray water inside.

Mayor Thomas Poynton said he was glad no other structures were harmed by the fire and that no one was hurt fighting the blaze.

The building has been vacant since March 2017 when the restaurant closed after 48 years in business. In May, after months of debate and objections from nearby residents, the village approved a proposal to build a Life Time Fitness health club on the site.

Poynton said the building burning down doesn't change future plans much.

"What's there to say, it was scheduled for demolishing in the near future and it will be demolished in the nearer future now," Poynton said.

Sarosh Saher, the village's community development director, said he spoke to representatives from Life Time on Monday.

"They've indicated to us that they've made demolition a priority," Saher said.

Only about 10 percent of the original Hackney's structure is still standing, he added.

The village has installed a fence around the rubble to secure the site until the rest of the structure can be demolished.

Malcolm said officials didn't expect to have an update on the cause of the fire on Tuesday.

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