CHICAGO — A Wednesday night fire in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood — a blaze one politician said was intentionally set in an act of gang retaliation — left three firefighters injured and roughly two dozen residents displaced from their homes, officials said.
The fire broke out about 11 p.m. Wednesday near 45th Street and Hermitage Avenue, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt said. The three firefighters were transported to nearby hospitals with minor injuries, he said, with one firefighter being released a short time later.
Merritt was unable to immediately confirm how many people were displaced by the fire, although multiple published reports have said more than 25 Chicagoans lost their homes. Videos posted online showed soaring flames consuming a three-story apartment building and spreading to the side and roof of another apartment building.
Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th, took to Twitter Wednesday night to suggest the fire was arson.
“Five hours later (and) retaliation ensues,” he wrote in response to another tweet describing a slaying that occurred nearby, earlier in the day.
Lopez qualified the claim Thursday morning, saying a known gang leader had been killed earlier Wednesday and the apartment building that later caught fire was a “known gang hot spot.”
“These events are possibly connected. Residents should be on the lookout for suspicious or increased gang activity that may signal retaliation in the Back of the Yards,” he wrote.
Lopez did not immediately return a call seeking more information. Merritt, from the Fire Department, was unable to say whether the fire appeared to be intentionally set.
“I don’t have anything to indicate it is or is not. It hasn’t come up as suspicious,” Merritt said.
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