Lawsuits were filed, but investigators never determined the cause of the Jordan Hardware blaze.
The Illinois Fire Marshal's Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms looked at the fire, questioning a number of people, but never learned the cause. The federal report did say there was no evidence of "third-party wrongdoing or product failure" at the scene.
Dan Kain owned Jordan's Hardware. He and his wife Cathy had run the business since 1983.
The BATF reported a female store employee said she knew of an electrical problem in the building — a soda machine was blowing fuses. Another employee added the soda machine and an overhead light were the only electrical devices that remained activated when the store was closed.
A man who did not work at the store, but was familiar with its operations, told agents he saw a person carrying document-sized boxes from the store to a green minivan a few nights prior to the blaze. This same man said Jordan Hardware was soon to be taken over by another party.
Another female employee said business had declined and stock had been low, but believed Kain was letting stock run down before switching suppliers from TrueValue to Ace Hardware. This woman added Kain was not in financial trouble, always paid employees promptly and she expected a successful switch to Ace.
The state fire marshal's office reported insurance coverage of the store was to expire two weeks after the fire.
An apartment tenant and a bar owner in the Jordan block sued Kain in 1999, alleging Kain set the fire or knew the fire was set. Both suits ended in settlements in 2003, without Kain admitting any wrongdoing or negligence. Neither Kain nor anyone else was ever charged with a crime in connection with the fire.
Kain's attorney said at the time Kain's insurance carrier settled to end costs and controversy associated with litigation.