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Hidden Gas Can Rumors Not Verified, Police Say — And Fire Department Says Things ‘Calming Down’ After Brutal Weekend

Social media posts about gas cans in Chicago alleys and sections of town being "burnt to ashes" are unfounded, officials said.

Colin Boyle/ Block Club Chicago
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UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — As civil unrest continues in various sections of Chicago, social media is being flooded with dire warnings that have largely been unfounded.

Among the threads going around was one that stated that residents of Noble Square and Ukrainian Village found a dozen gasoline cans hidden near several houses. Both Chicago Police and the Chicago Fire Department said they were completely unaware of that and said it was likely spread by those wanting to create fear.

“We haven’t heard or had anything like that at all,” Sally Bown, a Chicago police spokesman, said about the gas can rumor.

Another popular falsehood that spread was a meme that said June 1 was the day that several North Side neighborhoods would be “burnt to ashes,” including Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Logan Square, Avondale, Irving Park, Jefferson Park, Norwood Park and a few nearby suburbs. 

Chicago Police said they were aware of that rumor, but it was fake as well. Bown said in the current atmosphere, it’s easy to fall for unchecked rumors. 

“It’s really hard to know what is valid and what isn’t because fear breeds fear. But at the same time it’s understandable.”

The spokesman added that people still need to be careful. 

“Hopefully this stuff is just a lot of noise but people do need to be extremely mindful right now.”

Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) said the 1st Ward’s Streets and Sanitation team members personally walked up and down the alleys of Milwaukee Avenue between Damen and Ashland avenues on Tuesday morning and did not find any gas cans. They searched “by hand,” La Spata said.

A source in the 14th police district told Block Club on Wednesday that no reports of gas cans or arson had been made. Later in the day Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) told neighbors the 14th District bike patrol canvassed the area’s alleys and did not find cans.

Residents who find gas cans should call 911 or 311 to file a police report

As for actual fires, the Chicago Fire Department said things seem to be easing up a bit.

From 7 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday there were 85 fires, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. 

From 7 a.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday, there were 53 fires, Langford added.

“We think the number of fires is dying down because we think the situation is becoming a little more calm. I know we had fewer last night than the night before but we’ll have to wait and see,” Langford said. 

He added that the fire department has plenty of resources to deal with whatever comes its way.

“We’re good. If we brought in more people we’d have nowhere to put them because if you have four or five firefighters on an apparatus, there’s no room for a sixth.  Our manning works as it is and we’re good.”