The entire American Midwest has been plunged into deadly cold temperatures over the past week. The freezing conditions have resulted in many school districts having snow days, seeing horrifically dangerous roads, and even a number of deaths as people struggle to cope with the extreme weather.
With the plummeting temperatures set to continue through the end of the week, one good Samaritan in Chicago decided that they didn’t want to see any more deaths occurring. On Wednesday, with temperatures dipping to a record-breaking minus 23, the explosion of a propane tank prompted the Chicago Fire Department to evict 70 people from their homeless encampment near the Dan Ryan Expressway, and to confiscate the rest of the propane.
Luckily, no one was injured in the explosion — but the fire department didn’t want to risk another explosion causing harm to people nearby. With between 150 and 200 propane tanks heating the camp, the risk was way too high.
“This is extremely unsafe,” said Major David Byrd, the Illinois State Police Region commander.
Left without a heat source, the 70 people turned to the Salvation Army — who were trying to make accommodations for them when they received a phone call. Instead of staying in one of the Salvation Army’s warming centers, a mystery person had arranged — and paid for — the 70 people to stay in a hotel until the end of the week, when temperatures are supposed to stabilize, according to TIME.
Amid Chicago's deadly freeze, a good samaritan paid the hotel bill for 70 homeless people https://t.co/pPJsIcWR8O— TIME (@TIME) February 1, 2019
“The Salvation Army was prepared to welcome approximately 70 individuals who were affected by the explosion, but was notified those services were not necessary as the individuals were already being taken of,” Jacqueline Rachev, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army said. “We are thrilled that they are safe and warm. Some wonderful citizen is going to put all of them up at a hotel for the rest of the week.”
So far, no one has been able to figure out exactly who this incredibly good Samaritan is, and the person hasn’t come forward.
With so many people out on the street during the extreme freeze Chicago is experiencing, lives are at serious risk for people who don’t have a place to stay warm. Around 80,000 people are estimated to be homeless in the Windy City.
While many are trying to donate to homeless shelters during the big freeze, the fire department has issued a warning not to donate propane tanks — citing the fact that they are a fire hazard.