Monday, January 21, 2013

Updated: Weirdness at Possible Arson in Rogers Park 60626

Jan. 19, 2013 - Chicago News Bench has learned of two weird wrinkles in an otherwise ordinary fire story. A small fire broke out at approximately 10:15 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18 in the 7th-floor hallway of 1246 W. Pratt Boulevard (map). There were no known injuries and the flames were quickly extinguished with  only minor damage. Fire crews were gone by 11:15 p.m. However, here is where the real story begins: The bald guy and the mysterious lawn smoke detector.

Chicago police in the neighborhood of Rogers Park quickly began searching for a person of interest, who they think might have been involved with the fire in some way. Reports on the police scanner last night said that police were told by "a neighbor" that a man was seen "standing across the street" the previous night (on Thursday) "staring at the building" for a long time. The man was described as African-American, bald, 46 years old, possibly 5' 9" tall and wearing "a long trench coat." Did that man have anything to do with a possible arson?

More Weirdness: At 11:30 last night, I walked past the fire scene. There was a Chicago police SUV parked in front, with two uniformed officers doing paperwork. As I approached, I saw a smoke detector sitting in the grass in front of the property two doors east of 1246 W. Pratt. I told the police officers about it. "You don't often see a smoke detector sitting on the grass," I told them, "and the coincidence of seeing that right next to a fire scene must be even more rare." The driver smiled and said, "Thanks. I'll check it out."

UPDATE, Jan. 21: As of 10: 30 last night, the smoke detector was still on the grass, untouched, in exactly the same place that I first saw it on Saturday night. Apparently, the cop driving that SUV didn't give a crap about something that might be evidence in a possible arson case. Also apparent is the fact that he lied to me when he said he would "check it out."

Wrapping up: A guy in a long trench coat was seen Thursday night standing across the street "staring at" 1246 W. Pratt. The next night, a fire breaks out. A smoke detector is seen on the grass next door. Are these things connected? Why was the smoke detector where it was? Why did the cops take no interest in possible evidence of a crime?

Related: Possible Arson on Pratt Morse Hellhole