Is There an Arsonist in Park Forest? Investigation Ongoing.

Phil Klutznick home burns on December 27
The home of Park Forest founder Phil Klutznick burns on December 27, 2019. (Mabas 27)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- After a series of fires at the same location at a vacant home in the first block of Monee Road, speculation has increased online as to whether an arsonist might be targeting the home of Philip Klutznick, founder of Park Forest.

The state fire marshall is conducting an investigation. According to Park Forest Firefighters Local 1263 of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois and International Association of Fire Fighters, anyone who has witnessed suspicious activity on Monee Road is asked to contact the Fire Department.

“If you notice anything, please call our PD. We’ve had one firefighter injured by falling through the floor on one of the earlier fires, this arsonist is putting not only putting property at risk but our firefighters’ lives as well. Please help catch this individual,” the Local 1263 said in a statement on social media.

Mabas 27, the WILCO Fire Chief’s Association, comprised of 16 local fire companies, published spectacular photos of firefighters battling flames at the landmark home which now lies in ruins.

The home first burned in November. On December 27, Mabas 27 released a statement:

Companies returned to 33 Monee Road in Park Forest again at 00:48 hours this morning (December 27th) for the 3rd time. A persistent arsonist continues to put firefighters’ health and safety at risk to satisfy their own motives.

Companies from all over MABAS division 27 and MABAS 24 responded to the full-still and box level alarm; bringing approximately 50 firefighting personnel to the scene and to move up to the Park Forest fire station.

The first fire in November impacted the eastern wing of the building; the second fire 5-days ago impacted the west wing of the building; and the fire this morning impacted the central area of the building. Due to the construction of the building itself and the lack of contents, these fires each moved slowly across the specific areas of the structure. The east wing remains relatively intact thanks to the efforts of the firefighters, but the structure will likely have to be razed as a nuisance at this time.

As these fires are considered potential arson and are under investigation at this time; anyone with any information should contact either the Park Forest Fire Department; Park Forest Police Department or the Investigation Division of the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

On January 2, former Fire Chief Bruce Ziegle added the following on Mabas 27’s Facebook page, “Back to 33 Monee Road for the 4th time; someone is certainly persistent…quickly knocked down again by the ususal companies : Park Forest; Matteson; Richton Park; University Park and South Chicago Heights…station coverage provided by Monee and Crete Township…Great job by all again; no injuries…under investigation again…”

Village Manager Tom Mick was not prepared Monday night to blame the fires on Arson, telling eNews Park Forest, “I think some of the issues there could be hot spots on the property — certain areas where you can’t get inside the facility to extinguish everything — hotspots that could ignite. So I don’t know if all of them are arson issues or if any of them are. I think that’s for the investigators to surmise.”

Anyone with information or witnessing suspicious activity is encouraged to call the Park Forest Police Department Investigations Division at (708) 748-1309.

The investigation continues.