Metro-East News

Fire destroys car, vacant house in Washington Park

The fire that destroyed a car parked next to a vacant home near 47th Street and Baleydier Avenue in Washington Park Wednesday evening spread to the house and destroyed it, too.

Washington Park Fire Chief Joe Hazel said crews were dispatched to the property that’s just north of Interstate 64 shortly before 5 p.m. just as the fire was spreading from the car to the house.

By the time Washington Park, State Park and Camp Jackson fire crews controlled the fire, only the metal frame of the Pontiac sedan and the cinder block chimney of the small home were left. Hazel said firefighters had to rely on transporting water to the scene with tanker trucks because locating functioning hydrants in the neighborhood is difficult.

At one point, a piece of burning wood was thrown by the force of a fire hose away from the home, starting a small fire in the thick undergrowth just west of the burning home. Firefighters quickly doused that fire before continuing their work on the house.

“That car doesn’t belong here, we’ll have to figure out whose it is,” Hazel said. He added that the area south of Bunkum Road, north of I-64 and west of Illinois 111 was popular as a final destination for car thiefs who park stolen vehicles among the vacant homes and set them on fire.

Firefighters remained on the scene past 6 p.m. picking through the smoldering rubble of the home dousing hot spots.