EDITOR'S NOTE: See a video from the fire on the Herald Tribune's Facebook page.
An unoccupied house is being called a total loss after a Friday afternoon fire at 3000 State Street in Chester.
The two-story, ranch-style dwelling had major damage to the rear two-thirds of the building and Chester Fire Chief Marty Bert told local media that the house's occupants had moved out about three weeks ago.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
"We don't know if (the fire) started on the inside or the outside," Bert said, adding that the house's owner, Mike Ellis, had planned to tear the building down anyway.
A witness, Carl Hobeck, told media at the scene that he is contracted to mow a nearby lot and was on scene in his truck when the fire reportedly started.
"I had my window down and heard a pop and saw the window blow out," he said, referring to a side window at the rear of the house that firefighters were focusing on.
Hobeck, who called 911 to report the fire, said he saw flames shooting out of the window. He said there were no vehicles in the lot when he pulled up.
"By the time the fire department got here, (the fire) was going pretty good," he said.
Chester, Steeleville and Ellis Grove fire departments responded to the scene, along with MedStar Ambulance, Chester Police Department and the Randolph County Sheriff's Office.
Ameren Illinois was called to disconnect power lines to the house. Bert said Steeleville and Ellis Grove firefighters were paged for additional manpower.
"We call Ameren every time as we don't like to pull meters," Bert said.
The fire was reported at 1:44 p.m. All fire units were clear of the scene at 3:52 p.m.