When Turhan Ice woke up at his South Side home early this morning, he was jolted when he looked out to find his 1999 GMC Yukon SUV in flames.
The man was getting ready for his job as a plumber and when he called firefighters he was told they were already on the way. His next thought was wondering what he possibly could have done to make someone so angry they would destroy his work truck.
"It was engulfed in flames," said Ice, 46.
It turned out his vehicle was only one of 14 vehicles that were torched as they sat parked on streets in the Englewood and West Englewood neighborhoods on the South Side overnight, officials said.
The fires were reported between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m., according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. He said firefighters were called to extinguish about a dozen vehicles that had been set on fire.
They included cars, SUVs and at least one van, he said. "The [vehicles] were entered without damaging windows and they proceeded to start fires inside," Langford said.
In addition to Ice's vehicle there was another vehicle on the same block on the 6800 block of South Marshfield Avenue that was destroyed. When he found out that there were others, he felt relief because he wasn't targeted.
"I kind of felt relieved, that it wasn't personal," he said. "If it was personal I'd have to wonder why they did that, whether I did something."
Fire officials determined that the fires were suspicious and turned the investigation over to the Chicago Police Bomb and Arson Unit.
Police said the fires are being investigated as arson. Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Thomas Sweeney said at least 14 vehicles were damaged. Initially police said nine vehicles were targeted.
Investigators believe that the people responsible managed to get into the vehicles and lit items inside on fire using a flame, said Sweeney. No accelerants were believed to have been used. No one was in custody.
Police say they believe most of the vehicles were set ablaze between 4:30 a.m. and 7 a.m.
According to police, two vehicles were torched on the 6800 block of South Marshfield Avenue. Vehicles were also found on the 7000 block of South Eggleston Avenue; the 7100 block of South Eggleston; the 7100 block of South Wood Street; the 6700 block of South May Street; the 6600 block of South Laflin Street; the 1400 block of West Marquette Avenue;
the 1700 block of West 71st Street, the 7000 block of South Paulina Avenue and two were found on the 6600 block of South Marshfield Avenue. The location of the other two vehicles was not immediately available.
Ice said the fire destroyed some of his tools, work clothes and a new cell phone he had recently purchased for his son as a high school graduation gift. He said he only had basic liability insurance on the SUV.
"It's nothing that can't be replaced," he said. "It did upset me...but once I found it was happening everywhere else, not that it was OK, but it was a relief that it wasn't personal. I didn't think I had any enemies."
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