Monday, January 8, 2024

Yet Another Fire In The Tents Under The Viaducts

We've said it many times before: Unless someone from the city steps up to enforce the law prohibiting fires and incendiary devices in the tents under the viaducts, there is going to be a tragedy involving loss of life that no one wants to see happen.

And yet ... we see wannabe do-gooders providing flame heaters to those living there in highly flammable tents. We see open-flame cooking going on in the viaducts on a weekly basis.

We're not alone. So does the city. Make no mistake, the people who can stop this see what's going on and have chosen to turn a blind eye.

No one wants to be the bad guy who "persecutes" the unhoused population living there.

BUT ONCE AGAIN, there was a fire there. This time, it was under the Wilson viaduct, on the south side. Tents and belongings are charred and strewn all over the sidewalk and bike paths. At least this time it looks like just a couple tents full of people's belongings were incinerated.

With the arrival of cold weather and more tents crowded next to each other under the viaducts, the risk of a fire rapidly spreading from one tent to another becomes more likely. And so does the risk of loss of life.

We've posted many times about the risks that are present when fires are allowed in a place full of flammable tents filled with vulnerable people. But somehow, no one who could stop it has done so.

Alderwomen Clay and Manaa-Hoppenworth, how many lives lost will it take for you to urge the city to enforce the laws in your wards?

Ignoring the situation is not compassionate. It is setting the scene for a tragedy.


  1. Uptown, you need to get Channel 2 or 7 on it.

  2. Can you also talk about the growing tent city between Wilson and Montrose on Marine Drive and the growing number of tents by the dog park on Lawrence? Why is this all happening in this neighborhood and not in Lincoln Park or Lakeview?

  3. My last ordinance that I sponsored and was unanimously passed in April 2023 was an ordinance that required the City of Chicago to follow the 7 principles laid out by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to address homeless encampments. The 7th principle spelled out the process to be used when it is determined that the location of an encampment is considered unsafe.

    In September 2022, CDOT assessed the encampments under both Wilson and Lawerence were unsafe. It's my understanding that despite CDOT's email, it's been determined by the Mayor's Office that the situation under these 2 viaducts still does not meet the criteria to be considered unsafe.

    My question is what exactly determines when an encampment site is unsafe, especially given CDOT's current assessment?