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Fire damages Illinois casino

23 March 2009

JOLIET, Illinois -- As reported by The Chicago Tribune: "A massive fire Friday destroyed much of the Egyptian-themed entrance building at the Empress Casino in Joliet, sending dark smoke that was visible for miles rising above the two towering pharaohs alongside the front door.

"The blaze, which officials said may have been sparked by welders working on a kitchen duct system, started small about 10 a.m. But within hours more than half the city's Fire Department was working to prevent its spread to the casino barge, Fire Chief Joe Formhals said.

"No one was injured, and the casino had been evacuated before firefighters arrived, Formhals said. A Joliet paramedic moonlighting at the casino radioed in the fire shortly after it started.

"The casino itself seemed to have only minor damage, and Mayor Arthur Schultz said he hoped it would be up and running soon..."

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