Woman Still Hospitalized After Fireworks Spark Pilsen Blaze

CHICAGO (CBS) — An elderly woman is in the hospital Tuesday morning, injured in a fire in the Pilsen neighborhood.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, investigators believe it was sparked by children playing with fireworks.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Police say the children were playing by themselves on the back porch of a three-story building at 1323 W. 18th St. just west of Throop Street. They set the porch on fire.

The flames spread quickly through that building and through two others – at 1319 and 1317 W. 18th St. – before firefighters brought it under control.

An 80-year-old woman was taken to the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center with smoke inhalation, Fire Media Affairs Cmdr. Will Knight said.

Rodolfo Alvarez, owner of the building where the fire started, was looking through the two water damaged rear apartments and wondering how soon he could reopen his hardware store on the first floor.

“This is the way I live, I don’t know anything else,” he said. “I’ve been here 30 years.”

As he spoke, explosions from fireworks nearby echoed down the street.

“I think fireworks are a threat,” he said. “In fact, last night my grandkids were asking me to take them to buy some fireworks.

“I said, ‘Nope, it’s a hazard. We might cause a fire.’ And look, here it is in my own place.”

Police say they do not expect any charges in the case. The fire has been ruled an accident.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

  • Roberta Waker

    An accident? Fireworks are illegal and anyone causing injury or damage needs to be arrested and made to pay for the damage or injuries. Too many idiots ignore the law every year and cause damage while the police usually look the other way because they can’t get all of them. It’s time to send a message to those that continue to ignore the law. Fine them $1,000 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second, then jail them for 6 months for the third violation.

  • Sarah

    I saw two early teenage boys lighting off half sticks of dynamite with their puppy in hand. After calling the police, nothing was done. The next day my neighbors and their children were lighting off roman candles, half sticks, etc and once again after calling the police, nothing happened. Last night was the final straw. After taking my shell-shocked dogs to a safe house in the suburbs I called the police because I was concerned for my own safety. Nothing was done. I do not understand why the police do not do anything until someone gets hurt or if something horrible like a fire happens. I do not understand why this illegal behavior is going unpunished. Ticket the violators. By ticketing, not only does the occurrence lower but it also helps raise revenue for the city.

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