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Officials say fire at historic Peoria theater likely arson

Steven Maloney/ Facebook

Fire officials in Peoria now say they believe a blaze at the abandoned historic downtown Madison Theater was caused by arson.

Brad Pierson is a fire investigator with the Peoria Fire Department. He says the late-Saturday fire started in several spots in the old building. He said the blaze is still being investigated.  About $500,000 in damage was done to the theater.

The Madison was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. In 2013 Landmarks Illinois listed it as one of the state's most endangered historic places. It was closed in 2003 when city inspectors determined it needed safety upgrades.

Bill Ordaz, president of the Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation, says the theater is "a critical part of Peoria" that "still has potential."