Police conduct arson investigation after pair of fires in Hegewisch; 3 fires since weekend

On Monday, crews responded to a string of garage fires and a blaze at a vacant building.

SHARE Police conduct arson investigation after pair of fires in Hegewisch; 3 fires since weekend
Aftermath of a garage that caught fire in the 13500 block of South Buffalo Avenue. Photographed on Monday, April 5, 2021.

Aftermath of a garage that caught fire in the 13500 block of South Buffalo Avenue.

Manny Ramos/Sun-Times

Hegewisch residents have been left on edge as police conduct an arson investigation after firefighters responded to two blazes Monday blocks away from an arson fire that swept through a couple alleys days earlier.

The most recent fire broke out Monday at 8:30 a.m. at a vacant building last known as Tom’s Truck Stop Restaurant, 2701 E. 130th Street, just steps away from the daycare where Janeth Sepulveda works.

“A parent ran in and told us that the a large cloud of smoke was coming from the building next to us and then within seconds we started hearing the firefighter sirens,” Sepulveda said Monday afternoon. “I live and work in this neighborhood and this is really scary because it all seems unprovoked.”

There have been three fires in the area since the weekend, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt.

Before the blaze at the former restaurant, firefighters responded to a garage fire shortly after midnight in the 13500 block of South Buffalo Avenue in the neighborhood that left a garage completely burned, a car still parked inside. In the same alley, across from the charred garage, heat from the fire had melted siding off three more garages.

No injuries or displacements have been reported.

This is what’s left of what was last known as Tom’s Truck Stop Restaurant, 2701 E. 130th St. The building burned Monday, April 5, 2021.

This is what’s left of what was last known as Tom’s Truck Stop Restaurant, 2701 E. 130th St. The building burned Monday morning.

Manny Ramos/Sun-Times

On Saturday, a person set fire to garbage bins; that fire spread to several garages in the 13300 block of South Burley Avenue. The fire engulfed a wooden fence and caused some damage to the garage next to it.

Across from that fence, two garages, as well as utility poles, caught fire.

Edwin Hernandez had heard what sounded like fireworks. He looked out a window and could see the flames coming from the alley. He went outside to see if he could put it out, but the flames were too strong.

“At first I grabbed my hose to try and spray the fire down with water but it wasn’t working so we just all felt helpless,” said Hernandez, who then decided to record the blaze.

The fire didn’t reach Hernandez’s garage. His neighbor’s garage caught fire, but was saved when firefighters arrived. He struggles to understand why, if someone is causing the fires, they would do so in his neighborhood.

“We are a blue-collar neighborhood and we work really hard for what we got, so for someone to come here and just burn things down is horrible,” Hernandez said.

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