An accelerant was found at the site of an extra-alarm fire in the North Side Rogers Park neighborhood that left several firefighters hurt and families displaced Monday morning.
Crews responded to the blaze at the four-story building in the 1700 block of West Estes at 5:52 a.m., Chicago Fire Department Cmdr. Frank Velez said. Firefighters found heavy fire coming out of a stairwell in the front of the building, and the stairwell eventually gave out.
A mayday was called at 6:09 a.m. after a firefighter suffered a knee injury when the stairwell collapsed, he said. Six other firefighters also suffered minor injuries, most of which were slip-and-falls due to icy conditions, Velez said. Three were taken to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston, and four to Swedish Covenent Hospital. All their conditions were stabilized.
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago informed him Tuesday morning that some kind of accelerant was found on a stairway inside the apartment building. A portion of the stairway was removed and will be analyzed.
“They’re treating it as an arson and it’s been referred over to the Chicago Police Department,” Moore said.
Chicago Police confirmed the Bomb and Arson Unit is assisting with the investigation, but the cause and origin of the fire have not yet been determined.
About seven families were displaced by the fire, and Moore’s office is working with the Red Cross to find apartments for them.