CHAMPAIGN -- UI students were shocked a fire struck so close to home, but it's even more unnerving when police say what caused the fire. Crews responded to the 100-block of East John about 3:20 am Wednesday for an apartment fire.
Now, officials say the resident was making smoke bombs and chemicals on the stove caught fire. WCIA-3's Jessica Shaw explains the details.
22-year old Austin Povilaitis is charged with reckless conduct and criminal damage to property. The bomb squad and FBI were called to the scene. Police won't say what kind of chemicals were used, but they were highly flammable.
"I did see a bunch of crime scene people here this morning."
For students who live here, they came home to broken glass and a smokey apartment. The building had to be evacuated after the fire on the second floor.
"I don't know why people are cooking chemicals at three in the morning. It seems a little suspicious."
When the chemicals caught fire, Povilaitis tried throwing a couch on the stove to put it out. His friend, who was visiting, jumped from the second story window to escape the smoke.
"I can't believe that kid jumped and he didn't get hurt."
It's left neighbors scratching their heads, but also wondering "what if?"
"Pretty scary, definitely scary, especially because it's so close to home."
Both Povilaitis and a firefighter suffered minor injuries. No one else was hurt.
Update: 11:21 am
CHAMPAIGN -- A 22-year old UI student was arrested after fire broke out at his apartment early Wednesday morning. Austin Povilaitis, of Edina, MN, faces charges of reckless conduct.
Crews responded to the blaze about 3:20 am. Officials determined the fire started because Povilaitis was cooking incendiary chemicals on the stove. It's reported he attempted to use a couch to extinguish the fire, which cause heavy, black smoke to fill the apartment and hallway.
Povilaitis suffered minor burns but refused medical treatment. A friend visiting him jumped from a second story window to escape a large flash fire and heavy smoke. The FBI and bomb squad officer are involved in the investigation because of the use of incendiary chemicals.
Original: 5:12 am
CHAMPAIGN -- The fire department is on the scene investigating an early morning fire near campus. Crews responded to 105 East John Street about 3:00 am. Officials say a hot stove is to blame.
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