Eight cars were deliberately set on fire in the Wrigleyville neighborhood early Tuesday morning in four separate fires.
The fires occurred in alley behind the 3500 block of North Wilton, reducing the cars to piles of melted metal and burned out shells.
Tom Franzo was home at the time and noticed when one of the fires spread to his minivan. It sustained relatively less damage than the others, but is still expected to be a total loss.
"We had a stroller and two car seats, and when I went to get the registration out of the door, smoke just came out," Franzo said.
"It's just completely crazy because you had to be running through the alley to deliberately do this."
Neighbors say they woke up to explosions at about 4 a.m.
"I smelled something burning, came out back and saw that there were actually three fires going on at the same time," area resident Kevin Adams said.
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"It's like something you expect to see in Iraq or some other country, not here in Chicago. Seeing cars exploding and bursting and the fire right next door," witness John Johnson said.
The flames were so intense they reached all the way to the eL tracks, which are now blackened.
Insurance will likely cover the cost of most of the damage, but the incident has taken a toll on the neighbors' sense of safety.
"The crime I feel has been increasing around this area, year by year," resident George Cotsirilos said.
"I hope they're caught, obviously, and punished cuz this is just awful," Franzo said.
Police do not have any suspects in custody.