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Spontaneous fire found at scrap yard

A spontaneous combustion is blamed for a fire at Joseph Behr and Sons Recycling Center in South Beloit early this morning.

Fire crews were called at about 3:22 a.m. to 201 Wheeler Ave. Fire Chief Kenneth Morse said firefighters found a 75-by-400-foot structure fully engulfed in smoke when they arrived.

Morse said a bin of processed ground up metal had spontaneously combusted. The metal was giving off methane gas and was exploding in the bin while firefighters battled the blaze.

A box alarm was pulled and 13 fire departments from the area responded with aid including the City of Beloit, Town of Turtle, Edgerton, Rockford, Harlem-Roscoe and Belvidere.

No one was in the building at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported. About $5,000 to $10,000 worth of damage was estimated to the bin. No damage was done to the building structure, Morse said.

Garage fire extinguished in Town of Beloit

A garage fire was extinguished in the Town of Beloit shortly after 3 a.m. today.

Town of Beloit Firefighters responded to the garage fire at 429 Powers St. and found a two-car garage fully involved in flames. The fire was extinguished and there were no injuries to the owner or to firefighters. The garage is owned by Randall Zierfuss.

Estimated damage to the garage and contents was about $10,000. There was minor heat damage to the residence and the neighboring home.

The expected cause of the fire is not known, but the storage of spent fireworks is suspected in the fire.

Three burglaries reported in Beloit area

Three burglaries early this morning are believed to involve the same suspect.

Two of the burglaries occurred in the City of Beloit and one in the Town of Beloit. A black male suspect in his late 20s or early 30s with a stocky build was shown in surveillance footage in at least two of the burglaries.

The first occurred at about 1:30 a.m. at a Marathon gas station at 2670 Prairie Ave. Police weren't called until a newspaper delivery person noticed the building had been burglarized at 4:30 a.m. today.

A front glass door was broken. It wasn't known what was stolen. Beloit Police Capt. Dan Risse said the first one in Beloit occurred at 2:53 a.m. at Woodman's Food Market, 1877 S. Madison Road.

The suspect broke the front glass door and a separate door leading to the cashiers' area. Employees stopped the suspect before he could take anything, Risse said.

The last burglary occurred at 2:59 a.m. at a Speedway Gas Station at 148 Liberty Ave. The suspect again broke open the front door and stole some tobacco products, Risse said.

Motorcyclist suffers serious injuries

MILTON — A Janesville man was injured in a motorcycle crash Thursday night in Fulton Township.

Bart J. Schmidt, 49, was taken to Mercy Hospital in Janesville for treatment of life-threatening injuries, according to a news release from the Rock County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies were called to the crash scene shortly after 9 p.m. on East County Highway M west of North Kidder Road. Deputies found the motorcycle in the north ditch and Schmidt was found along the edge of the roadway suffering from severe head and facial injuries.

Investigations indicate Schmidt was westbound on East County Highway M when he failed to negotiate a curve. The motorcycle left the north side of the road and Schmidt was ejected.

Speed and alcohol are considered contributing factors in the crash, according to sheriff’s office reports. Schmidt was not wearing a helmet. He was cited for operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants.

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