HUMBOLDT PARK — A small fire torched plants and a tree at the far western end of the elevated Bloomingdale Trail late Sunday afternoon, according to a witness.
Michelle Singleton said she was biking around 4 p.m. Sunday and saw smoke as she approached the western trailhead in Humboldt Park, where the Bloomingdale trail crosses the 1800 block of North Lawndale Avenue.
Singleton, who took photos and video of the fire, said several people were watching the small blaze and already had called 911.
"Bystanders poured their water bottles on the flames but it wasn't nearly enough. Foot patrol officers arrived and kept onlookers back. The flames spread eastward from the construction fence then got into one of the fir trees and really took off," Singleton said.
Chicago firefighters got to the site a little after 4 p.m. and put out the flames with a hand-pumped extinguisher and then brought in a hose to douse the area and put out any embers, according to Singleton, who said "the whole thing took about 20 minutes."
Since the fire occurred at the end of the trail, Singleton said a fire truck was able to park on the street next to the trail and then carry the extinguisher up a ramp which circles the under construction observatory. Later, the firefighters moved the truck closer and pulled a regular fire hose up for the final dousing.
It's unclear how the blaze started.
Larry Langford, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman, said late Monday that the cause of the fire is likely not going to be determined.
"It’s a prairie fire from all indications and the source of the fire may never be known to a certainty," Langford said.