One dead, 39 displaced by series of arsons in Heart of Chicago

- A series of arsons in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood left one man dead and 39 people displaced from their homes early Friday, and investigators are checking the neighborhood for possible video of the scenes.

The fires were all set about 3 a.m., according to Chicago Police. There were “seven total fires, all starting in garbage cans or combustibles near garage walls,” Fire Media Director Larry Langford said.

A man, whose exact age was not immediately known, was found unresponsive in a garage that was set on fire in the 2100 block of West 21st Street, according to Fire Media Affairs. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police classified the death as a homicide. The victim’s name had not been released as of Friday morning.

The other fires were reported in homes in the 2200 block of South Blue Island; and garages in the 1700 block of West 21st Street, the 2100 block of South Wood and the 1800 block of West 21st Street, according to police.

The two-alarm fire at 2272 S. Blue Island spread to the back porch of a home and an adjoining building, leaving 39 people displaced, according to Fire Media.

No residents were injured in that blaze or the other garage fires, but one firefighter suffered minor injuries, Langford said.

Paul Foertsch, a Chicago Fire Department District Chief, told reporters Friday morning that the fires were all initially set in alley garbage cans that eventually spread to garages and homes.

He added that about 100 firefighters from across the city responded to the area.

The Chicago Police Bomb and Arson Unit is investigating.

“All the fires are suspected arsons,” Langfiord said. Investigators are “looking for possible video.”

Fire crews will be passing out fire safety information to residents in the area Friday at 1 p.m. in the 2100 block of West 21st Street.

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