Oak Lawn Police are currently speaking to a person of interest who lived at a single-family home that was completely leveled by a fire and possible explosion early Saturday morning.
Oak Lawn firefighters were called to the 8900 block of West 55th Court at approximately 5:14 a.m.
Division Chief Michael Kaufmann, of the Oak Lawn Police Department, said in a written statement that none of the residents who lived there were at home when the fire broke out. There were no injuries to firefighters or neighbors on the block.
The home was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene after a neighbor called 911 to report that an explosion was heard and flames were visible from the home near the corner of 89th Street and
“It was evident that some type of explosion was involved,” OLFD Bureau Chief James McGeever said. “The walls of the home partially blown out, which tells us right there that an explosion could have occurred.”
McGeever said that the fire was immediately escalated to an extra-alarm fire because it showed signs of spreading to other nearby homes. As many as a dozen fire companies and additional resources were called in to help battle the blaze.
The battalion chief on the scene did a rapid risk assessment and decided not to risk putting firefighters into the house.
“It was too dangerous,” McGeever said. “[Firefighters] never went inside the building because of the partial collapse of the roof and walls. The floor had also caved in.”
Firefighters’ efforts to put out the blaze were initially hampered by icy street conditions and low water pressure in a nearby fire hydrant.
McGeever said that firefighters had to drop a hose line from a hydrant on Central Avenue through the backyard of a hose on Central to the backyard of the house that was on fire.
A total of four hydrants were used, including three on 55th Court and the one on Central Avenue.
Although the fire was struck within 30 minutes, fire companies remained on the scene for hours to preserve possible evidence for the Illinois State Fire Marshall and search for hot spots.
Two homes on either side of the leveled home sustained “radiant heat damage.”
“The windows on the home on the south had started melting,” McGeever said. “The windows on the north were blown out. Neighbors on the street reported hearing a loud boom.”
Police said that a male resident was found outside the house when both firefighters and police officers arrived. The male resident was not injured.
A neighbor who lives on the street told Patch that police had the male resident in handcuffs and were questioning him outside the burning home.
Cook County property records show the homeowner as Dagunta Giliene.
Earlier Saturday, around 2:04 a.m., police were summoned to the same address for an “unwanted subject.”
Officers intervened in what is being described as a “verbal disagreement.” The wife and children along with other friends left for the night, but the male resident remained behind at the house, police said.
Detectives are currently speaking with a person who lives at the house. The matter is still an active investigation.
The Oak Lawn Fire Department and Illinois State Fire Marshall continue to investigate the cause of the fire to determine the nature and cause of the fire and explosion, police said.
WGN-TV quoted officials on the scene that they believed the fire to have been set using gasoline.
There were no arrests as of Saturday evening. Police are asking anyone with information to call 708-422-8292.
Video from WGN-TV.