Several brush fires broke out Tuesday morning in south suburban Alsip after forecasters warned warned weather conditions could lead to particularly dangerous fires.
About 11 a.m., Alsip Fire Chief Thomas Styczynski noticed “two big, black plumes of smoke” coming from two different areas as he was leaving the village’s police department.
Fire crews were then sent to fight the brush fires that were causing the smoke, Styczynski told the Sun-Times. At one point, crews were battling five separate fires along train tracks between Cicero and Kostner avenues that stretched from 116th Street to 127th Street.
During the afternoon hours, homes along Joalyce Drive from 115th Street to 119th Street Street had to be evacuated, according to a post on the the fire department’s Facebook page.
The fires were all out by about 5 p.m. and no injuries were reported, Styczynski said. Several vehicles were destroyed at both an apartment complex and a business, with the total damage caused by the fires estimated at about $500,000.
Styczynski said the fires appeared to start from sparks generated by trains on the tracks, and that Tuesday’s dry conditions “absolutely” contributed to how quickly they spread.
“Between the wind, the temperature and the humidity, that was a huge factor,” Styczynski said.
The fires were sparked after the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning that remained in effect until 7 p.m. Tuesday. the advisory warned that a combination of strong winds, dry conditions and warm temperatures could “promote extremely dangerous behavior of any fires.”
Rain showers and thunderstorms are expected to move into the area Tuesday night, the weather service said. The wet conditions are expected to stick around through Thursday.