Chicago-area firefighters said they were “in disbelief” after children vandalized the Homewood Acres Volunteer Fire Station, leaving the space ransacked and irreplaceable memorabilia destroyed.
“Shock, disbelief,” Homewood Acres Fire Chief Brian Rouson said of the scene. “It looked like a tornado had passed through here.”
Rouson said four or five youths, likely under the age of 14, were seen last weekend in security footage walking around the fire station, which he said is unmanned around 90% of the time. time.
“What made them do that, I’ll never understand that. They probably couldn’t explain it to anybody,” Rouson said, “I, I didn’t watch the whole video. Somebody was the ringleader – ordered them to do what they did.
However, in the video footage, the children are not seen damaging walls, ransacking offices and destroying items treasured by firefighters, officials said.
“There are a lot of memories that can’t be replaced — awards and photographs, trophies — that sort of thing. They get destroyed,” Rouson said.
The chief said the incident happened on Saturday morning, but wasn’t discovered until Monday, when Lt. Joe Rutkiewicz pulled over to use the facility.
“You never think someone is going to come in and trash someone’s fire station,” Rutkiewicz said.
The lieutenant is one of twelve volunteer firefighters working at the station. He said the vandals tried to hide their faces from security cameras and then destroyed the devices before they could capture video footage of the incident.
“We’re doing this for the community. We don’t expect any compensation. We donate our own time, our own gas money to – to come here and help the community, and that’s how we get reimbursed,” Rutkiewicz said. said.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, officials said.