TINLEY PARK, Ill. - In the early morning hours of Friday, the Tinley Park Fire Department received a call for a building fire at the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center grounds.
The site is located at 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue.
When firefighters arrived at the scene, they found the south side of the recreational building in the residential area of the campus on fire. Officials say several factors, including poor lighting, a lack of functioning fire hydrants, dense overgrowth, and the deteriorating state of the abandoned structure, made it that much harder to fight the blaze. It took crews over an hour to gain control of the situation.
Village Manager Pat Carr expressed serious concerns about the situation.
"This is the second significant fire that the Fire Department has responded to on this property within the last six months, with the last one back on April 28," Carr said. "This property has become a homeless encampment and poses an extremely high danger for these people and our firefighters due to the poor condition of the property."
Several nearby fire departments helped in fighting the blaze.
"Immediate action is required to secure the entire campus, or we may see more fires, potentially endangering our firefighters and local residents due to smoke and other hazards." Ensuring the safety of both residents and emergency responders remains a top priority, prompting the need for swift intervention to address the ongoing challenges on the property," Fire Chief Steve Klotz said.