Loves Park man starts fire in yard, burns neighbor’s garage

Local News

LOVES PARK, ILL. (WTVO) — Neighbors of one Loves Park home are fed up.

They claimed that the man who lives next-door started a fire in his backyard that got out of control and burned her garage.

Katie Arensdorf, the neighbor, said that something needs to be done. She said that the problem started more than a year ago and has complained to the city before the fire on Saturday, but that this was the final straw.

“So we pull into the driveway, and we didn’t even make it very far up the driveway, and we could see the whole back garage and our fence completely ablaze. So, I immediately jump out, I’m frantic, and my husband grabs the hose and he starts screaming for the neighbor,” Arensdorf said. “That night we did not sleep, we thought for sure that the fire was going to catch back on. It was a nightmare, an absolute nightmare.”

It is a nightmare that Arensdorf said she saw coming. She claimed that her next-door neighbor, who rents a house on Boulder Street in Loves Park, started an out of control fire in his yard Saturday, which spread to his garage and then to hers.

She said that the stuff in his yard continues to pile up.

“We have four young kids, our oldest is going to be nine soon, so four under nine and this is their home, this is their safe space,” Arensdorf said. “They want to be able to play and ride bikes, and ride scooters and do chalk, but they can’t when we have an unnecessary mess next-door. It’s a safety hazard.”

Arensdorf is now pleading to the city to do something. Gregory Cox, an attorney with AGHL Law that is representing the city, said that they are trying.

“An order was entered directing the owners to clean up the property and a fine was imposed at that time,” Cox said. “At a re-inspection in August, we found that the property still had not been cleaned up.”

The city is suing the property owners, but Cox said that this has been a nearly ten month process.

“This lawsuit is for correction of some code violations that are present on the property, mostly some debris that’s been left out in the yard, and some other violations of the Loves Park city code,” Cox said.

However, Arensdorf wants something done now.

“I would like to see the mess cleaned up as soon as possible, ASAP, and then he needs to be removed and not allowed near the premise,” Arensdorf said.

Police issued the renter for two citations for the fire, and said that he did not have a firepit or ring around it for control.

When asked to be interviewed, he declined and said that it is a private matter between him and the people who own the house.

“No, I’m not interested in any kind of interview or anything,” he said.

Arensdorf said she is thankful for the fire department and their quick response.

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