Fires leave citizens in Salem on edge heading into weekend

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SALEM, IL (KTVI) - Residents in the small town of Salem, Illinois are bracing for what they hope will be a quiet night. Some believe an arsonist is targeting their town after witnessing two major fires during back-to-back mornings.

The first fire destroyed the Old Brown Shoe factory and spread to another structure. The most recent fire was spotted Friday morning at a warehouse in the heart of town. Flames spread to the Pregnancy Care Clinic.

“I believe our city is under attack,” said Nancy Wesling, clinic’s executive director.

Wesling said clients could visit the center’s other office in Centralia. She said it was too soon to determine where or when the Salem clinic would rebuild.

“You can replace your furniture, your computers, your ultra sound machines,” said Wesling. “But we have pictures of all the babies that were born here, and just a lot of history of being here 25 years in the community.”

Jayme Michel said the community cannot take much more of this.

“It’s hard to imagine that someone would want to do this to our town,” Michel said.

The city’s fire chief says it’s too soon to say how the fires started or whether there is a firebug. The Illinois State Fire Marshal is investigating with help from the Salem Police Department.

“It’s been pretty difficult,” said Salem Fire Chief Roger Mann. “It takes a lot of people, and basically they’re pretty worn out.”

Salem resident Jodi Trinkle is the wife of one of the Salem firefighters. Friday was her first chance to see her husband in 48 hours.