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Albany Park

Albany Park On Edge After 3 Fires In 3 Days, But Investigators Haven’t Found A Connection

“They’re looking at each fire to see if there are any similarities or anything that could possibly connect them,” a Fire Department spokesman said. “Thus far, they have not reported any evidence that would show that to be the case.”

Agents from the ATF inspect the church at 4500 N. Spaulding Ave. in Albany Park after a fire on Feb. 23, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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ALBANY PARK — An Albany Park apartment, church and vacant building within blocks of each other all have caught fire this week, but local authorities say they have not found a connection.

The investigation into the cause of the fires and if they’re connected continues, Chicago Fire Spokesman Larry Langford said.

“They’re looking at each fire to see if there are any similarities or anything that could possibly connect them,” he said. “Thus far they have not reported any evidence that would show that to be the case.”

Dozens of residents were displaced Monday after a fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. at a multi-unit residential building in the 4300 block of North Richmond Street, according to the Fire Department. 

The blaze started outside the three-story building on the corner and spread to the Twisted Hippo brewpub, 2925 W. Montrose Ave., and the Ultimate Ninjas Gym next door, officials said. A 60-year-old man was hospitalized from smoke inhalation.

The second fire was reported at 3:23 a.m. Tuesday at a vacant brick residential building at 3318 W. Cullom Ave. A firefighter injured in that incident was taken to Swedish Hospital, where he was treated and released, Fire Department Spokesman Larry Merritt said. The building was boarded up by Wednesday.

Then a third fire damaged a vacant church at around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday at 4500 N. Spaulding Ave., officials said. Severe fire damage around the main entrance and several broken windows could be seen as firefighters worked to control the blaze, which spread throughout the building, officials said.

No injuries were reported, fire officials said.

Fire officials told the Sun-Times neighbors saw children going into the building recently. The fire apparently started in the basement and spread.

Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were seen at the church fire. Merritt and a detective on scene said that is standard procedure for fires at houses of worship.

The three fires are within several blocks of each other. Following the destruction from the fire involving the apartments, Twisted Hippo and Ultimate Ninjas, two other fires nearby prompted some concerns among residents on social media.

“No pattern has been identified between this [Spaulding] incident and the fires prior,” Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

The Twisted Hippo fire left the brewery’s building so damaged, it must be demolished. Fire Department investigators have been unable to access parts of the scene to fully investigate. Langford said when heavy equipment is brought in for the demolition, investigators hope to get better access.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Windows are boarded up on a vacant apartment building at 3318 W. Cullom Ave. on Feb. 23, 2022 after a fire there the day before. A firefighter had fallen through the floor while battling the blaze.

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