Heard enough bad news lately? If so, this story is for you. There were 70 people who had set up tents and planned to spend the night in a makeshift camp on Roosevelt Road near the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago. But by 6am on Wednesday, the temperature had sunk to minus 22 degrees and there was a windchill of 49 degrees below zero.
On Wednesday afternoon, one of about 100 donated propane tanks the group of homeless people were using exploded. This incident caused a hazardous materials response by the Chicago Fire Department. Fortunately, no one was injured according to department Chief Walter Schroeder.
“We responded to a fire,’’ Schroeder said. “When we got there, the fire was extinguished and they found all these propane cylinders. That’s when we escalated it to a Level I Hazmat.’’
The chief understood that the propane tanks were donated as an act of kindness to help those in need, but urged against the use of the tanks.
“There was a significant amount of propane there, and with that many cylinders, that’s like a bomb going off,’’ Schroeder said.
The city immediately notified the Salvation Army, who began preparations for those in the makeshift camp to move to the Salvation Army’s warming center in the city.
That’s when a good Samaritan offered to pay for hotel rooms for 70 people who were camped out in tents overnight in the bitter cold.
“Isn’t that wonderful? At least they’re warm and they’re safe,’’ said Salvation Army spokeswoman Jacqueline Rachev.
Only one man decided not to take them up on the offer, and he has checked into the warming center on Christiana, known as the Freedom Center.
Rachev was not sure of the identity of the good Samaritan and only knew the hotel was on the city’s South Side.
“All the folks there, some wonderful citizen is going to put all of them up at a hotel for the rest of the week,” she said.