Charges have been filed against a teenager accused of starting a five-alarm fire that destroyed a vacant warehouse and a neighboring business in west suburban Cicero earlier this week, officials said.
The juvenile suspect was arrested Friday night after information was provided to the Cicero Fire Department investigators, who took the information to police, according to authorities.
The suspect was apparently with a group of possibly two other high school-aged teenagers who went to the warehouse and then started a fire, possibly to keep warm. The suspect began playing with the fire and in so doing, caused the fire to spread, at which time they teenagers fled.
“We’re very pleased that this fire has been resolved and a suspect has been identified,” said Fire Chief Ron Opalecky.
Crews were called to the warehouse, at 1829 54th Avenue, just after 6 p.m. Tuesday. The building was completely engulfed in flames that could be seen from miles around by the time firefighters arrived.
The warehouse fire raged for more than 12 hours through Wednesday morning and required assistance not only from the Cicero Fire Department but also from about a dozen other Fire Departments.
At one point, the fire jumped and ignited the Central Steel Fabricators building next door. That building is full of cardboard and aerosol spray cans, causing officials to worry about explosions.
Both properties, the vacant warehouse and the Central Steel Fabricators, were completely destroyed by the fire, but no injuries were reported.
No other charges will be filed in the warehouse fire, Police Supt. Bernard Harrison said.
As crews were battling the warehouse fire, others were called to deal with a fire at a multi-family building several blocks away.
Opalecky said that investigators determined that the second fire, at a residence in the 1400 block of South 50th Court, was caused by a space heater.
Cicero Town President praised the firefighters for their work in containing the fires, and Fire and Police officials for their hard work in identifying the cause of both fires and arresting a suspect.
“These are terrible tragedies and many lives have been disrupted,” Larry Dominick said. “I’m proud of the hard work that our employees and Fire and Police officials put into protecting our community and responding to emergencies."