With the State Fire Marshals
The Illinois fire loss in January was $2,503,454, with a total of 1974 fires, according to the report of John G. Gamber, Fire Marshal of Illinois. Of the total loss, $1,130,745 was in the city of Chicago. The largest loss, $628,502 occurred in dwelling houses with a total of 1180 fires. The great majority of fires in dwelling houses were caused by defective or overheated flues, stoves, heating plants and their appurtenances and sparks on roofs.
Other large losses were: Factories, $611,605; stores, $431,709; warehouses, $240,725.
During the month a total of 4088 inspections were made, 15 dilapidated buildings removed and 25 persons fined for failure to comply with orders. Twenty-eight persons lost their lives through burns and 27 were injured.
Ten alleged fire-bugs, seven of whom have confessed, have been apprehended in Illinois in the last few weeks, according to the February report of Fire Marshal John G. Gamber.
Fred Neal, colored, has been given one to twenty years in reformatory for arson, after confessing to burning home of his sister at Bloomington January 16 for revenge.
Adolph Pfeiffer, 21, Chicago, confessed to setting a series of fires at the Wilson and Co. plant, one of which did $15,000 damage, and was committed to the Kankakee State hospital. He was also suspected of setting a fire at Morris and Co.
Mrs. Nora sweeney, Highwood, Lake County. Accused of setting fire to all buildings on old Michael Sweeney homestead February 23 and driving off Ft. Sheridan fire department with a shovel. A week before the fire she was served with notice to vacate as a result of partition suit of relatives and chased the constable with an ax. Old Michael Sweeney, founder of the estate, once served a term in the penitentiary for placing timbers on the tracks of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, after an unsuccessful court fight to keep the railroad off his land, and later was tried with two sons for murder and acquitted.
Charles Shurn, Aurora, Kane County, confessed to setting fire to his house in several places to collect insurance.
S. B. Elkins and son William, Bennington, Edwards County. George Beeman, nephew of S. B. Elkins, confessed he was persuaded to burn their store December 25, 1919, so that the insurance could be collected.
Mr. and Mrs. Ora L. Cline, Larchland, Warren County, confessed to burning store January 19 to collect insurance.
John Kamp, Kankakee. Confessed to setting fire to Grand Hotel February 28 for revenge. He and his wife previously served sentences for arson for burning the home of a relative for revenge.
Several large losses are under investigation by the fire marshal.