Apparent arsonist sets Hegewisch alley ablaze, destroying several garages on southeast side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A string of overnight arsons Saturday on the city's southeast side are now under investigation.

The entire back alley of one Hegewisch neighborhood was engulfed in flames with the fire spreading to at least five garages, destroying a lot of property in its path.

"The alleys are lined with trash cans and everyone's trash cans have 20 or more and were all on fire. The flames were ten feet above," said resident Torence Ake.

Just before midnight Saturday, Chicago police said someone intentionally set fire to some garbage cans in the back alleyway of the homes near 133rd Street between Burley and Buffalo Avenues.

"Fires set in 45 minutes. They just drove through and set all the trash cans on fire," Ake said.

Other streets in the area were also targeted, including a box truck, according to neighbors.

"There was one big boom, so obviously it sounds like they used a firework and then everything spread," Ake said.

The intense flames burned down the power lines and created dangerous conditions for crews.

Ake is a freemason and said he had these more than 100-year-old documents packed away in his garage.

"These are archives [are] from a half a dozen different lodges," he said.

Many are dated back to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Luckily, Ake was able to salvage the papers from the flames.

"We have kept that document all that time and here it was almost lost," he said.

Neighbors said this is not the first time someone set fire to their property in recent years.

"The same garage lit on fire before," said neighbor Edwin Hernandez.

Now, neighbors are worried that next time people won't be able to get out in time.

"Leave us alone," Hernandez said. "We are quiet and hardworking people. Blue-collar people."
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