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Initial police reports of the June 1 morning fire in the 1400 block of Marengo indicate a red 5-gallon plastic gas can was recovered by police from the second floor at the top of the stairs. Graffiti was spray painted on the kitchen walls, said a police source. The fire was reported to be of a "suspicious nature" and there was a "presence of accelerants," said police reports. The case is still under investigation.
Emergency responders broke windows on the first and second floors and forced open the front and back doors to fight the fire, which occurred two blocks south of Betsy Ross Elementary School on the last day of school for District 91.
Dispatchers told fire and police that someone from the house had called police at 3:30 a.m. the night before, suspicious that someone was breaking into their garage. Police found two spent shotgun shells in the yard the night before.
A representative for the realty company told police that only he and the current tenants had keys, since the locks had been changed. Police reported the house was locked when they arrived.
Forest Park Realtor Jerry Jacknow, who serves as the agent for the property, said tenants underwent a credit screening through the Metro West credit bureau before renting the property. He said previous tenants had "trashed the place," and that the house, whose owners live out of state, had to be completely remodeled.
"In 47 years, this is my first time I've ever had a loss like this," said Jacknow.