WRIGLEYVILLE — When Elliot Stevens heard car alarms going off Tuesday morning, he didn't think much of it.
"It's normal to hear car alarms in the alley, so we disregarded it," the Wrigleyville resident said. "But then my neighbor came up and said, 'Your cars are on fire.' "
Stevens and his roommate rushed outside to the alley behind their home in the 3500 block of North Wilton Avenue. The scene they found "was out of a movie."
Someone had set eight cars and a canopy on fire shortly after 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to police. There were five fires in the alley, which sits between Wilton and Sheffield avenues.
Stevens, 24, said the first fire engine on the scene Tuesday ran out of water.
"I guess that shows you how much fire there was," he said.
Several witnesses said flames rose so high in some places that they touched the "L" tracks above the alley. Neighbors reported hearing loud booms around 4 a.m.
"I don't know if they were doing it Molotov cocktail-style or what, but there were definitely explosions — every 10 minutes from 4 to 4:30," said Meg Thomas, 23, who lives on Sheffield.
On Tuesday afternoon, five severely damaged cars and a singed canopy were in the alley. Shattered glass covered the ground, and the smell of something burning was in the air.
No one was in custody.
One of the most damaged cars belonged to Stevens' roommate. The vehicle, which had been draped in a cloth cover, was gutted, its tires and front bumper melted to the ground.
"I feel so bad for him. He only has liability insurance," Stevens said, adding that his own car was totaled, but he has full coverage.
Neighbors said they've seen a lot of "riffraff" in the alley before, especially on game days at nearby Wrigley Field. Several car windows have been smashed in the last few weeks.
"It's Wrigleyville," Thomas deadpanned, but was quick to add there haven't been serious incidents beyond "the typical bro action."
"It's really lucky that nothing worse happened. No buildings caught fire, no people were injured," Stevens said. "It's something kind of serious. It could've been much worse."
Contributing: Tanveer Ali
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