Chicago Flea Market Blaze Ruled ‘Accidental,' Electrical Issue Suspected: Officials

An investigation found that an electrical issue in a vendor's booth could not be ruled out as the cause of the blaze

The massive flea market blaze that destroyed more than a hundred cars and caused millions of dollars in damage has been ruled accidental, officials said Thursday. 

An investigation found that an electrical issue in a vendor's booth could not be ruled out as the cause of the blaze. The fire was sparked in the vendor's booths located in the south portion of the market, investigators said. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' National Response Team was called to investigate the massive fire that tore through Buyer's Flea Market last week. It was the first time the National Response Team has been called to Chicago. 

Fire officials revealed that more than 100 vehicles were found burned by blaze and the loss from the fire is estimated to be "in the millions." 

A preliminary investigation showed no indications of arson, according to authorities. 

At least one person was rescued and several cars swallowed as firefighters spent hours battling the blaze in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood.

The fire started around 9 a.m. in the 4500 block of West Haddon Avenue and took several hours to put out, the Chicago Fire Department said. 

The building's roof deck collapsed in the blaze, engulfing parked cars as the flames intensified. The fire department said the vehicles and other flammable items inside the property prompted firefighters to "surround and drown" the building. 

"The whole building will need to come down," said First Deputy Richard Ford II. 


The flea market was not open at the time of the blaze, but dozens of vendors and businesses rushed to the scene, only to watch the building, and their merchandise, burn to the ground.

Richard Jacobs is a manager of the flea market which has been in his family for years.

"We feel terrible for all our vendors and we're hoping to rebuild if we can and see what happens along the way," Jacobs said. "We're still in shock as much as our vendors are."

Jacobs added that vendors "know that they should have insurance and we have made that clear."

The flea market's owner, Lenny Kraus, flew in this morning to reassure families who have lost their businesses.

"I'm not going to take the money and run. I'm going to put the place back together," Kraus said.

"It's my piece of the American Dream, owning my own business," said vendor Duwayne Randolph. "Just to watch it burn up like this... what more can I say."

Contact Us