Our friend Steve Redick had a busy night chasing after the firefighters of Chicago. Two extra-alarm fires broke out about two hours apart.
The first was a 3-11 church fire where a parishoner has been arrested for arson. It was reported around 9:30 PM at Edgebrook Evangelical Lutheran Church in the 6400 block of N. Hiawatha Avenue.
At 11:45 PM a fire in a Greektown restaurant was reported. The restaurant was destroyed and a grocery store and other businesses heavily damaged during the 4-11 alarm response .
James Deichman, 61, of the 6200 block of North Cicero is charged with felony arson at a place of worship.
Interim Pastor Rev. John Holm said during a phone interview that Deichman is a member of the church. Just yesterday morning, Holm said he and other church leaders discussed ways to get the man help because of an obvious deterioration in his mental health.
Holm said Deichman lit some garbage cans on fire outside the church and then broke a window and started a fire in the lobby. Police responding to the scene found him inside and were able to get him out safely, Holm said.
The church building is “absolutely devastated”, Holm said. An adjacent educational center is unusable due to smoke and water damage.
The church was built in 1943 and expanded in 1953. The church web site describes the architecture as a “slightly modern adaptation of the English Village Church.”
“We’re going to say some prayers and sing some hymns and just try to hold each other up,” Holm said.
A deep fat-fryer may be the cause for an extra-alarm fire that left a Greektown restaurant a total loss and heavily damaged an adjacent building, fire officials said.
Firefighters were called out to the 2-story building that houses Costas Greek Dining & Bar at 340 S. Halsted St., about 11:35 p.m., said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. The fire was initially struck out shortly after 3 a.m. but officials said they were still on the scene as they worked to shut gas service off.
The restaurant manager told firefighters arriving on the scene that the fire started in the kitchen and a deep fat fryer may have sparked the blaze, fire officials said. A fire department spokesman said while they suspect the deep fryer as a cause an investigation will determine a final cause of the blaze.
The fire quickly rose from 3-alarm status to 4 when it spread to the building to the north. That building houses three businesses — Athens Grocery, the Pan Hellenic Pastry Shop and Greektown Gift and Music Shop.