CHICAGO – An arson investigation is underway in the city’s Far South Side after three garbage fires, all along the same alleyway, were intentionally set, according to authorities.
The overnight blaze in Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood damaged nearby utility poles, knocking out power and internet to residents. Locals told WGN that what they initially thought was the sound of firecrackers was instead a raging fire.
“Immediately this garage, that garage, that garage,” described Torence Ake. He says he woke up to flames that were “already 10-20 feet above the building.”
According to police, arsonists set blaze to trash cans in the alleyway behind South Buffalo between 133rd and 134th streets. The first blaze in the area was reported on Saturday night.
“It was quite the Fourth of July,” Ake said.
The fires spread quickly – to at least three garages, including one where Ake kept historical records for the Fraternity of the Freemasons.
Ake said it was a miracle that all the records – dating back to the late 1800s – were spared.
“Each one of these pieces of paper represents a human being,” he said. “There could be 2,000 of them in here for all I know. We all want to be remembered, don’t we?”
Ake questions the motive behind an act that could have potentially erased centuries of history.
“It’s one thing if it’s a wildfire, that’s natural, but to do it on purpose?” Ake asked.
One neighbor suffered injuries to his hand when he pulled a lit trash can away from a structure to stop the spread of the fire. Ake believes that a quick response from nearby fire crews likely saved houses from burning.