Arson investigators have determined that someone intententially set a fire in a vacant Burnside neighborhood home that preceded an explosion there overnight, police said.
Firefighters returned to the home this morning where investigators had been investigating the possibility that an illegal gas hookup may have lead to the explosion, police officials said.
The blaze was one of two overnight being investigated by the Chicago Police Bomb and Arson Unit because they were both deemed suspicious in nature, said Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Robert Perez.
At about 8:30 a.m., crews were summoned back to the Burnside home on the 9100 block of South Woodlawn Avenue after neighbors reported that the fire had rekindled at the same location, said Perez. City building inspectors were also called to the home this morning.
Arson investigators have since determined that the fire had been intentionally set.
"It was caused by someone pouring gasoline thorughout the house and igniting it," said Perez.
Chicago Fire Department crews had initially been called to the home at 12:58 a.m. after neighbors reported hearing an explosion at the home and reported that the house was on fire, said Perez. Neighbors told officials that the home had been vacant, Perez said.
The heat from the fire caused damage to three other homes on the block but no one was injured.
After the earlier fire was struck out, gas company crews were called to the area to shut the gas line connection. At that time, officials notified police and fire investigators that their records showed that the gas had previously been disconnected.
Investigators had suspected the possiblity that someone had illegally turned the gas back on at the home, Perez said. The circumstances are being investigated by the bomb and arson unit to determine if the gas line had been hooked up again.
"[People's Gas] informed police that the gas had been shut off to that location previously and someone tampered with it and supposedly turned it back on," said Perez.
At about 3 a.m., firefighters were called to a separate fire on the 6500 block of South Ingleside Avenue, where a first-floor apartment was on fire in the unoccupied 6-unit apartment building.
A 41-year-old firefighter sustained a hand injury and was treated at the University of Chicago Hospital, where his condition had stabilized.
That fire is also being investigated by bomb and arson officials as well as fire department investigators because the fire was deemed suspicious, said Perez.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun