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Tinley Park firefighters respond to blaze at vacant mental health center property

The SouthtownStar - 10/20/2023

Oct. 20—A fire early Friday morning in a recreational building on the grounds of the vacant Tinley Park Mental Health Center took more than an hour for firefighters to bring under control, the village said in a news release.

Firefighters were sent shortly after 1 a.m. Friday to the state-owned property, northwest of Harlem Avenue and 183rd Street, according to the village.

The fire broke out on the south side of the recreational building in the residential area of the campus, but firefighting efforts were hampered by no working fire hydrants, thick overgrowth and the dilapidated and dangerous condition of the abandoned building, the village said.

The 280-acre property is scheduled to be sold, for $1, to the village's Park District, which initially plans to redevelop 90 acres to include the soccer field, multipurpose sports field and an accessible playground.

A total of $15 million has been earmarked in the state budget for an environmental cleanup of the site and demolishing dozens of buildings on the land.

The village said it is the second significant fire to occur on the property in the last six months, and village officials have repeatedly called on the state to secure the site.

"This property has become a homeless encampment and poses an extremely high danger for these people and our firefighters due to the poor condition of the property," Pat Carr, village manager, said in the news release.

mnolan@tribpub.com

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